Your burning questions answered about retail pot

Retail sales begin Tuesday but there's more to know to stay on the right side of state law.
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Legal marijuana from Colorado.

Retail sales begin Tuesday but there's more to know to stay on the right side of state law.

Get ready for the biggest day of pot-smoking in Washington state since ... maybe forever. We've got the lowdown on what you need to know when retail weed is finally stocked for general purchase on store shelves Tuesday.

In a middle-of-the-night email, the state Liquor Control Board issued licenses to 24 recreational pot shop proprietors early Monday, finally giving the green light for businesses to open under the 2013 voter-approved measure to make marijuana legal under state law. The move came after the historic law legalized recreational marijuana 20 months ago.  But not every store will be ready to open Tuesday. For instance, retailer Brian Budz  told The Seattle Times he does not plan to open his New Vansterdam store in Vancouver until Friday. He prefers to have a “soft opening” a day ahead of that with families and friends.

State officials issued 21 of those 24 licenses to stores in Seattle, but only one — Cannabis City — will be open for business, at noon tomorrow. The earliest stores can open is 8 a.m. Tuesday. Cannabis City owner, James Lathrop, explained the later opening: “We're talking stoners here. I'd be mean to say they need to get up at 5 a.m. to get in line."

In prep for the big day, here are the four main points you need to know:

  • Where to buy: In Seattle, Cannabis City is at 2733 Fourth Ave. S. in SoDo. Below is a list of all other issued licenses. It remains unclear which shops will be open or not Tuesday. State officials expect to license 334 stores by the time they finish processing applications, but that number could drop to 305 because no one applied to sell weed in the 29 locations the Liquor Control Board allotted licenses to.

Arlington: Cascade Kropz. Bellevue: Green Theory. Bellingham: Top Shelf Cannabis and 2020 Solutions. Bingen: Margie's Pot Shop. Camano Island: Bud Hut. East Wenatchee: The Happy Crop Shoppe. Ephrata: High Time Station. Kelso: Freedom Market. Lacey: 420 Carpenter. Langley: Whidbey Island Cannabis Company. Longview: Westside 420 Recreational. Okanogan: 4 Us Retail. Prosser: Altitude. Spokane: Spokane Green Leaf, Satori/Instant Karma and Green Star Cannabis. Tacoma: Space and Creative Retail Management. Union Gap: Verde Valley. Vancouver: New Vansterdam and Main Street Marijuana. Winthrop: Austin Lott.

  • What to expect inside: Just like bars, no one under 21 years old is allowed to go inside pot stores. Some stores might offer a “sniff jar,” where potential public buyers can smell the marijuana through a mesh screen, but for most part there will be no sampling of pot. And while marijuana-infused food and beverages will be legal, the state has yet to announce the approval of any of them. So, none will be offered in stores tomorrow.

All adults can purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana (and, when available, 16 ounces of infused products or 72 ounces of liquid infused product). Prices are not regulated by state, but determined by market. One retailer says he is expected to charge between $15-$20 per gram. The regular price at a medical clinic is about $10 per gram. Prices could soar higher than Mary Jane to $30 per gram, according to Dominic Corva, executive director of Seattle's Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy. Expect a heavily taxed product — a 25 percent excise tax is collected at every stage of the process, from grower to retailer.

Like how fine wine comes in all different types, from cabernet to sauvignon, marijuana also has its varieties or strains — some with higher concentrations of potency that are all tested and labeled on the recreational product. A state spokesperson says there is no standardization by the Liquor Control Board of what strains are legal, so you'll find a wide variety of strains in stock.

  • Legal transportation: When taking your weed purchase home, it just needs to be in a closed container, Liquor Control Board spokesperson Brian Smith said. Pot cannot legally cross country or state borders because marijuana is still illegal under federal law. So, tourists, think twice, before deciding to bring home some of the sticky icky.
  • Where to smoke: Weed is legal in the state, but barely legal to smoke anywhere. The same rules that apply to tobacco apply to marijuana, and you cannot drive and smoke. No smoking in private residences used to provide childcare, foster care, adult care or other social services, no smoking in a rented residence if it is not 420–friendly, no smoking in parks and no smoking in indoor workplaces or bars or restaurants. 

Crosscut's Emily Wooldridge contributed to this story.


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Jessica Buxbaum

Crosscut editorial intern Jessica Buxbaum recently moved to Seattle from California where she studied political science at Humboldt State University and worked on the university's newspaper and magazine.