Every red-blooded, non-Mormon American male has dreamed of getting filthy rich by getting people high. The moment marijuana use became legal for Washington State's adults last November was the moment hordes of half-baked marijuana enthusiasts began seriously contemplating opening their own legal grow operation, dispensary, delivery service, or circus-themed marijuana-laced-dessert parlor.
But launching a legitimate state business is more complicated than simply selling people weed—business owners must know about zoning regulations, federal and state tax laws, even how to get a bank loan to sell a federally prohibited substance. Basically, they need a crash course at marijuana school.
Fortunately, Seattle now has such a school.
"We get you ready from the ground up—including giving you access to four or five different lawyers who specialize in working with marijuana businesses," explains George Boyadjian, the man behind the Washington Cannabis Institute. Boyadjian started a similar school four years ago in California, because he liked smoking weed and had a background in business. Since then, he's expanded his marijuana school into Nevada, Arizona, and now Washington, where $300 buys you a seat in the two-day seminar. The next one scheduled for Seattle is on March 23 (details at washingtonmarijuanaschool.com). Boyadjian says the foundation of each class is teaching safe business practices. This includes presentations from lawyers specializing in tax, business, and criminal defense to educate students on what could happen if they "go beyond the law," as Boyadjian delicately puts it. The school also explains the differences between medical marijuana businesses and those that will be newly legal under Initiative 502, timelines for I-502's implementation, and what to do in the instance of a federal raid.
"We're not talking about how great marijuana is or what it does for patients, we talk about the stuff that people don't want to talk about: the dangers and practicalities of the business," Boyadjian says. "People need to hear this type of stuff. It needs to sink in that there are harsh realities with this line of work. This isn't a regular industry—there is a thin line between going home at night and going to jail. It's a very thin line."