How Washington State Screwed Up Its Legal Pot System


Where/how do 'we' start remedying these issues?
You are full of it, Dominic.

I stopped reading when you said that the State would require commitments to a space before getting a license.

I followed the process quite a bit and the State was in public and clear (before audience of 300 people) that it knew that finding a physocal space -- whether retail or grow -- might be difficult and that the State would be patient and let applicant find spot for reasonable length of time if first location fell through such as local zoning etc etc

Now I am sure that process is imperfect but when I read something so obviously at variance with what I personally heard, then I don't believe you have covered the story well.
Jesus it's been less than an hour since weed has been on sale in Seattle and The Stranger is already predicting failure. Yes the licensing process was a mess but what is being done has NEVER been done before. Give it at least a day before you condemn the entire fucking system.
Btw, I am on their email list and I found the State very informative so I can't see your "poorly informed rulemaking" either.

I would like to hear from people who went through process further and share their experience, anonymously of course if it need be said.

Maybe I am too harsh w/ you though that does come with the Stranger Jet so I guess it is part of the job.

"It's never been done before!" Nonsense. Colorado was more than a year ahead of us. There's obviously a thriving black market for marijuana in this state, which the LCB decided to pretend didn't exist instead of reaching out to and trying to incorporate in the new above-ground market. Then we open the first store - only 1 in the entire city of Seattle - and it's dramatically understocked. It's clear the LCB is a relic of the culture of Prohibition. It needs to be dissolved and sent home, these people have to be dragged kicking and screaming into implementation of the will of the voters.
And Obamacare just collapsed. This message brought to you by your local breathless excitable FOX News affiliate, The Stranger (Seattle's Only Newspaper).
Why don't you and Ansel blame it on Amazon? Or "NIMBY" bike path folks?

No one likes the failure of good things more than The Stranger. Why are you all so fucking negative? Piss off.
@5 Colorado has had the most robust medical marijuana system in the country for years so starting up a recreational market was MUCH easier for them (demand could be met sooner because Colorado already a ton of weed growers that had been there for a long time growing medical weed). Washington didn't have NEARLY the infrastructure that Colorado had prior to legalizing recreational weed.

So yes, in Washington State's case it has never been done before.
@4: I, too, am on that list. I've followed this closely. Instead of clearly-defined regulations with which one can objectively comply, we got a set of guidelines--including an FAQ--that are likely helpful for guessing whether or not the liquor board will make a subjective decision regarding one's authorization to do business.
Guess we are going to have to start working on Initiative 503: Law to ban government fuckery in the realm of weed. Seriously though, we are probably going to have to vote on another law to unfuck this.

There's no reason Med dispensaries shouldn't have been allowed to convert to shops. No reason not to allow consumption of at least edibles in public, be it bars, clubs, and coffee shops and no reason not to allow vaping and smoking in designated smoking areas. I was hoping the LCB wouldn't have made this an issue but I apparently I made a mistake in assuming they were too stupid about pot to fuck it up.
Fucking Liquor Control Board should be disbanded.
So it's a problem that the farmers have to meet licensing requirements before they get a license, but it's also a problem that the store were given licenses before meeting licensing requirements?
The 687K squ feet is 8% of Total market,not 8% of the 25% total market goal for state. it's about 34% of the 2 million squ feet - stated as the 25% goal for state. If total market is 8 million squ feet that's a lotta weed.
Maybe, just maybe, they didn't want to rush into this industry as hard as they possibly could - instead, show that what they have in place works well and move on from there.
The most telling number in all of this is 334. The idiots at the WSLCB can only count that high. That's probably the maximum number of items their database can handle.

Or, more likely, they had 334 separate kickbacks to redistribute, and this was a convenient way to do it.
@ 2, 4) The liquor board was clear, especially at first, that applicants who sought to be producers and processors would need to secure locations before receiving a license. This was what I heard from Bricken, a lawyer who has represented many of those clients and is quoted in this story, and it's also true of Michael Lick, who is co-owner of Prana Group. I interviewed him today.

Lick, a grower based in Shelton, says the state told producers like him that they "needed to be ready to go" in order to get a license. He says the state required an operational model open for inspection. Although there were applicants who got a license without owning or renting a location (some simply provided a statement of intent of the landlord or a pre-lease agreement), this was an arrangement that the liquor board only accepted midway through their licensing process, after the key players had already scrambled to find space, find money, and invest heavily into infrastructure. As Lick explains, "The messages from the liquor board were changing."

The upshot: Applicants needed a location--and in some exceptions, a location secured with a tentative contract and operational models--all of which make obtaining a license, finding investors, and supplying product so onerous that the market now faces a major shortage.
Entirely moot, but still I can't help but wonder if the liquor stores hadn't been closed would this entire issue be moot, with MJ just being sold out of those store fronts? And if so, how would the state work around it's own regulations?
Dom, Not a word about edibles, which as I understand it, are not currently being allowed for sale due to an over abundance of caution? According to the Seattle Times, no one is even able to say when edibles may become available. It's preposterous.
" Law to ban government fuckery in the realm of weed. "

Oh I see, anything the lefts wants should be left alone by gub'ment. Gotcha.

Good to see Sloggers finally understand 6he incompetence of the gub'ment they so dearly enjoy inflicting on others.

That makes no sense. Where do you think all the cannabis supplying WA's numerous medical dispensaries for the past 16 years comes from - Oregon & British Columbia? Unlike Colorado, the poltroons currently in charge of the WSLCB simply elected to avoid dealing with the already-extant MM/black market supply-chain altogether as a sop to the feds - who, ironically, seem to have become decreasingly interested in even pursuing domestic cannabis production outside the federal lands system - in some misbegotten attempt to circumvent those markets; unlike CO, which recognized that all they needed to do to eliminate or at least significantly curtail the illicit trade was provide those growers and distributors the opportunity to go legit and yet still make a decent profit, something that clearly is not going to happen here for a long while, because - what's the incentive?

They blew it, pure-and-simple, in their effort to bend over backwards to appease the DEA & ATFE, whereas Colorado simply didn't seem to give a flying fuck what the Feds thought - or threatened to do.
it will fail because the state of washington doesn't listen to the people. just like when we said I WILL NOT TAKE YOUR DUMB TOLL BRIDGE - did the state listen? no. then they said "golly gee we aren't making as much off this bridge toll" -- WTFF??!! we told you that! same here. i and many others have been warning the state for almost two years if you cannot compete with street prices ($10 a gram) this will not work. HELLO??!! EARTH TO THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, ARE YOU THERE??! of course not. now just sit back and watch as the state attempts to sell weed for twice what i can buy if for one foot out my office door then sit around like "gee what happened?"
21 pot retail stores sounds fair. For Fremont.

We have that many medical MJ stores.

In one small Seattle neighborhood ...

Epic Fail, #waleg ...
Don't worry -- if alcohol prohibition is anything to go by, the WSLCB should have this all sorted out by, er, 2084.
@21 as of June 2013 Colorado had 532 dispensaries and Washington State had 138. That means Colorado growers have been meeting a much higher demand over the last 12-15 years since medical marijuana has been legal (1998 in Washington and 2000 in Colorado). It has NOTHING to do with Colorado " not giving a flying fuck about what the Feds think". It has to do with the fact that there were more growers in Colorado to start with. Growers with equipment, property, paid staff, insurance, lawyers.

But who wants facts anyways?...……
@21 nails it
According to WolframAlpha, 8 million square feet comes out to 183.7 acres.

That doesn't seem like all that much especially when you compare it to how many acres of hops are grown in Washington state (29,000)!…
@18 - Yet another reason I wish that we had that one back. Privatization of alcohol in this state has been a debacle.
I get the distinct feeling that the WSLCB deliberately set the whole thing up to fail so they could throw their arms up and say, "whelp, we tried! Guess legal pot doesn't work!" But now of course we have Colorado as a huge counterargument, showing just how incredibly incompetent the WSLCB is... so where is the referendum to get the whole board disbanded?
@25 If your "facts" only come from medical-marijuana-dispensaries.findthebe…, I would prefer better facts. The reality is Washington State has far more than 138 medical marijuana dispensaries.
To begin with, 502 gave us a nearly unworkable business model for recreational marijuana. But that is what happens when you base legislation on polls, not on what can actually work. Now that the time has passed, the legislature needs to replace the 502 recreational business model with one that has workable math. The proponents of 502 gave us a popular, yet unworkable legislation, with the rallying cry to fix it after it passed.. Then, when it passed, they promptly dropped out of site.
The privatization of liquor stores is instructional about what happens when popular, yet poorly conceived, legislation passes. A few large companies won, everyone else lost. The Liquor Control Board has a poor record of actually asking themselves how business works, what happens when regulations change midstream, and how long business capital can hang on while the State figures out what it is doing.
Instead, WSLCB pretends that business math doesn't matter, that recreational marijuana is a huge pot of gold, instead of the most highly regulated, iffy agriculture, with none of the tax right-offs of normal agriculture, and no ability to plan for the size of the next-year's crop.
502 proponents sold a pass it then fix it plan, then skipped town when it came to fixing it. 502's affect on medical marijuana was entirely foreseeable; and now, with recreational beginning to limp along, again the Legislature, WSLCB and 502 proponents are responding not with reality, but by glibly labeling all patients as fakes and hundreds of Board certified neurologists and pain doctors as apparently writing phony medical authorizations. With their lazy solution that thousands of patients, who probably are on the financial brink because of their long-term health problems, can just opt into the $17 to $25 per gram recreational market (when the supply actually exists).
The whole thing is a mess. But that is what happens when glib 502 proponents take their blow and go approach, legislators solve real problems by inventing stereotypes and absolving their responsibilities in that way, and the WSLCB tries to make a poorly conceived initiative into a workable system.
Part of the "problem" is that Washington has a very robust "medical" marijuana industry - nearly unregulated. Anybody with the sniffles can get a med card for $75-125, a card which allows them to buy weed much more cheaply, and even grow your own!!

My fear (and that of many other med users) is that the state will try to destroy the medical system, which I assume they are counting as part of "the black market". If the state succeeds, you won't see much suport from med users in other states as the legalization bandwagon gains steam.
thanks for the update Dominic Holden, great comments too. long time coming...don't get discouraged Seattle, don't whine. support the system and help make changes. your Representative. get involved. Call the G-ddamn Mayor. file a complaint in his office. Support "The Stranger"-Seattle's only newspaper.
Conspicuously absent from this discussion- Winterlife Coop, which is running a thriving and successful weed delivery business, untouched by law enforcement, yet facing no visible competition?! I would love to know who they're paying off.
I think the WSLCB wanted this all to fail, especially when they hired BOTEC and their clown, Mark Kleiman, who literally wants to ration how much people can use. Why else would their goal be to capture 10% of the black market? Why not 100%? And not letting dispensaries convert over. It doesn't make any sense at all, except to be a huge setup for failure.

Also wondering why the board has such strange and inexplicable rules like the 24 hour quarantine before product can ship?
Relax, Craigslist and locally are covering the slack. Hell look at how high, no pun intended, liquor prices jumped when we got the nanny state out. They've since normalized and we will see the same with weed, give em a year jeez.
As one who has never smoked marijuana (or nicotine cigarettes, either) and doesn't plan to start, so I probaly sound like some total dweeb in this thread but fuck it---I'm completely sober upon making this comment:

@27 Little Bongo: I LOVE your Bongo icon of Matt Groening's pre-"Simpsons" days. Ah, the memories!
My favorite from "School is Hell" is the map of futility in Bongo's disastrous neighborhood, with the arrow pointing how far Bongo has to go on foot to get home from school. The caption asks:
"Can YOU help wee little Bongo safely find his way home?"
Of course there are the usual unpleasantly nightmarish traps and scenarios only Groening could come up with blocking Bongo's every possible path, i.e.: 'girl with annoying crush on Bongo', 'roaming gang of hoodlums', 'downed power line','drunk driver', 'rabid dog', 'crazed youth with BB gun' et. al.

Thank you, Dominic, for the latest Washington State Pot and Liquor law updates.
I would imagine it's getting infinitely more difficult for wee little Bongo to safely find his way home nowadays.
@37: Please excuse the typo. I meant ..." so I probably sound like...".
Sometimes for me, Typing is Hell.
For me, 502 was not about destroying the black market.

It was about making sure I didn't get arrested for having a tiny jar of weed in my glove compartment. It was about being able to get high and tell people that I got high without fear of the cops.

And to me, the biggest thing that could go wrong with 502 is a Fox News report or a Wall Street Journal article about how kids left and right are suddenly gaining easy access to legal weed. That triggers the backlash that makes the weed illegal again.

As more stores pop up, competition will increase, products and services will theoretically improve, prices will drop, and people coming into the world of herbal remedies who never had a dealer will purchase their weed the only way they will know how: at the shop.

Yesterday cannabis city sold over fifteen pounds of pot, at $20 a gram...

28 grams in an ounce X $20 a gram - $560 an ounce

16 ounces in a pound X $560 an ounce = $8960 a pound

8960 $ a pound for 15 pounds = $134,400.00

25% of the total is tax for the state = $33,600 BARE minimum income for the state, off of one pot store in one day.
Libs Shocked Government Regulation Breeds Failure; Ask for More Government Regulation to Fix Current Government Regulation.

Will weed be the thing that makes liberals understand that anything the government does, they do poorly? Probably not, but a guy can dream...
SOME things the government does it does poorly. Other things, it does quite well. You also misidentify the culprits as "liberals." A real liberal would have simply legalized it, or at least done so with fewer restrictions. The reason the restrictions are in place is to placate blue nose pecksniffs, a troublesome bunch that really know no coherent ideology other than "no laughter allowed." There's plenty of those types who self identify as "conservatives."
The main problem is the Liquor Control Board. As their handling of the rules clearly illustrates, these people are clerks and bureaucrats, nothing more. They couldn't run the state liquor business correctly, so what makes any of us think they'll do any better with a completely new type of business?

The good news is, even if I-502 fails, prohibition part two is dead. If it fails, the state will be responsible just as they were when they screwed up the liquor business, but they'll find a way to make it work, such as privatization, as they did with alcohol. I just hope they don't stick us with the highest marijuana prices in the country like they did with alcohol.

The moral of the story is, people who can't run businesses work for the state.
Wow, you finally get a clue... 18 months late.
I think the state should burn down all the "medical " marijuana shops. Let the regulated free market rule!
@43 The problem is not that the Liquor Board is composed of 'clerks and bureaucrats' the problem is the very nature of the Liquor Board. It is basically a relic of the immediate post-prohibition era, a malignant temperance squad. What we have is an agency that is pretty much congenitally opposed to the idea of any legal intoxicants tasked with regulating a newly created pot industry. They are far more concerned with throwing up obstacles than implementing the will of the people. I think if they are not going to significantly loosen their current ludicrous regulations in the near future mass protests at the Liquor Board offices are in order. The people passed this initiative by a wide margin. These shits need to be made to bend to the will of the people.
Boren Place Park no longer exists.

It is now the Terrace St. Streetcar Station Plaza ... has a few benches but no grass (numerous planters though)
Real Legalization is the answer with the 2014 WA I-648 Cannabis Petition!
WA I-648 allows for Cannabis: Growing, medicating, using, possessing, and sharing, without license, tax, fee, or registration for adults; Treatment of minors under supervision of parent or gaurdian; First violation criminal penalty by minors waived; Medical patients exempt from THC DUI 5 ng/ml threshold; Past violations removed from criminal record.
Real Legalization will bring Cannabis Freedom by the People for the People, beginning in Washington state, leading the nation and countries around the world with True Cannabis Legalization!
Details at Please spread the word! Peace

How did they screw anything up? Isn't this the exact same way the gov't has "screwed up" the drug war all along? It's going to be two years since 502 passed and the drug dealers and the cops raiding them are still in business, all without major public outcry. I would say Washington has "screwed up" like a fox.

if you are interested, DO send me a friend request Shawn Peters or Email :
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After over a year of building to suit the requirements, and legally defeating the nimby (not in my backyard), we were proven to have taken neighboring concerns to heart, reduce our yield expectations, and limit ourselves to a very small indoor grow. It was a huge investment of time resources, and retirement cash out. Last week the liquor control board officer, decided for herself to tie all loose ends for us, and brought along no less than 5 local inspector types. Fire Marshall, planning department, building department, and I'd have to reflect on the last. At any rate our building was inspected and met with residential building codes, 2 months ago. And all other all other represented were satisfied, up to the building official, who in her anti-501 flavor has promptly stated she requires we equip this small building with a sprinkler system and remove all coverings from the window. Which were covered formerly in accordance with the conditional use permit, requirement. No this very small building in which you are never more than 8 feet away from an exterior exit requires a sprinkler system, in accordance with an industrial hazard manufacturing plant. We've been dealing with the obstacles as they come, but this 3 day hoop deadline that the liquor control board officer, is responsible for bringing down on our heads, is too much to take. It's one thing to fight with a single opposing neighbor with money in her pocket to fight on religious and political beliefs, but it's entirely another to be dealing with downfall brought on by the officer of the liquor control board who is supposed to be an advocate? We are caving. Colorado utilized their existing medical industry, while Washington state on the other hand is trying to build a new infrastructure from the ground up. As my son says, if it is legal, it should just be legal period. We did not need the one and only right to produce to be filtered by the liquor control board, which for the next few years will be chasing its own tail.
My friend has been trying to get a license for almost a year. They keep changing the rules to keep folks who have an application in from getting licensed. The Liquor Control Board is a bunch of mindless control freaks. I've known folks from 3 other applications who have been constantly harassed, delayed, etc for months. They need to be taken out of the picture.