Washington state issues 24 marijuana shop licenses
SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state issued its first retail marijuana licenses today with a middle-of-the-night email alerting bleary-eyed pot-shop proprietors that they'll finally be able to open for business.
"We're pretty stoked," said John Evich, an investor in Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis, in a 2:30 a.m. Pacific time interview with The Associated Press. "We haven't had any sleep in a long time, but we're excited for the next step."
Randy Simmons, the state Liquor Control Board's project manager for legal marijuana, said Sunday night that the first two dozen stores were being notified so early to give them an extra few hours to get cannabis on their shelves before they are allowed to open their doors at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The store openings are expected to be accompanied by high prices, shortages and celebration.
The state licensed 14 stores in western Washington and 10 in eastern Washington.
Spokane has three stores. Vancouver, Tacoma and Bellingham each have two. Seattle and the other cities on the list have one each.
The issuance of the retail licenses marked a major step that's been 20 months in the making. Washington and Colorado stunned much of the world by voting in November 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults older than 21, and to create state-licensed systems for growing, selling and taxing the pot.
Sales began in Colorado on Jan. 1.