Pot. Weed. Mary Jane. Whatever it’s called on the street, it has now been legal in Washington State for almost two years, and now you can buy it as if it were tobacco or alcohol. Legal pot sales began this morning in the Evergreen State, and shops opened as early as 8 am to long lines of waiting customers ready to make history, mellow history.
The reported cost of the first legal pot transaction in Washington State was two grams for $26.50. Some varieties can go for as much as $50 an ounce, well above the street price, but it’s legal, which changes the game entirely.
Legal Marijuana has been a long time coming, and Colorado, who began legal sales on January 1 of this year has already seen a major increase in state tax revenue. Washington brought in experts from Botec Analysis Corporation out of Massachusetts to aid them in figure out tax rates and to ensure proper collection. Officials are expecting huge tax windfalls. USA Today reports:
Colorado already has collected more than $24 million in marijuana taxes and fees as residents and tourists buy pot at state-licensed stores. Washington expects to collect $190 million over the next four years, according to state projections.
According to the same article, the Washington State Liquor Control Board, who oversees the licensing and distribution of legal weed sales licenses, has issued 25 permits for shops around the state. A small team of 18 people approve the licenses–which come from well over 7,000 applications–and the state expects to approve 10-15 licenses a week going forward.
The next big issue to hit this groundbreaking process is supply and demand. Demand will always be there, but will the supply? Washingtonians have had 19 months to legally grow their marijuana, but will long lines of waiting smokers, as well as curious dabblers and those just wanting to be part of history smoke through that supply before more can be grown. We are still talking about a plant here.
According to an earlier USA Today story:
While 79 growers have been licensed since Initiative 502 won voter approval, most don’t expect to have their first shipment ready until late summer, the board said.
“Will there be shortages?” asks Randy Simmons, the board’s legal-pot project manager. “The answer to that is yes.”
As with all new processes, there will be bumps, and Washington State growers and sellers will find that things will get easier in time. As for now, today, marijuana is legal for sale in Washington and Colorado, and hopefully soon in the rest of the United States.
[Image Courtesy of the New York Post]