Here are some bits from a long piece on the unfolding of the mmj in industry in Washington state. This story is an great update on history happening right now. Enjoy:
“Three weeks ago, an event space in Fremont hosted an unusual trade show. A legal panel debated public policy and a doctor discussed the state of health care as girls in bikinis posed near tables of bongs and a guy in a green bear suit offered free hits off a 5-foot pipe. And the smell of marijuana wafted over the Ship Canal.
Seattle’s first-ever Medical Cannabis Cup — part gourmet weed contest, part trade show, part smoke-in — showcased the entrepreneurial drive and explosive growth of the local medical-marijuana industry. From dispensaries offering dozens of marijuana varieties to new potency-testing labs to makers of cannabis-infused capsules and candy corn, storefronts displaying the trademark green cross dot nearly every Seattle neighborhood. The city estimates there are at least 150 marijuana-related businesses here, more ubiquitous than Starbucks. Elsewhere in Washington, business may not be as out in the open, but it’s still chugging along.
“We’re at the infancy of a new industry,” said Dan Skye, editorial director at High Times magazine, which put on the Cannabis Cup. “Everybody’s trying to get their foundations. But just as quickly as this quasi-legal industry has grown, it is at a crossroads.
. . .
What goes on behind all those green crosses? Unquestionably, some dispensaries are run by people with an earnest desire to ease suffering from cancer, epilepsy and other ailments. Others seem more focused on the scramble for market share.
Medical-marijuana businesses run raffles on Facebook and give free joints to early birds. They offer customer-loyalty programs and delivery service, and sometimes stay open until 3 a.m. An ad for one business features a woman in a wet T-shirt and panties. Ostensibly, their customers aren’t getting high; they’re medicating. They attend DJ-fueled shindigs, including one with a “medicated chocolate fountain,” and another that promised to “make medical history” in a party boat at Seafair.
. . .
Drive down Seattle’s Rainier Avenue South and you’ll see the green crosses, one after another. Some dispensaries are clean and well-lit. Others are dingy, with homemade signs out front. The people behind the counter often don’t fit the image of a pharmacist who can answer questions for an elderly cancer patient. On a recent visit, one “budtender” looked barely 20.
“We have the best stuff,” a clerk at another dispensary explained. “You won’t be disappointed.” A third, which bills itself as the “home of gourmedibles,” runs customers through a metal detector. At a fourth, a skinny young man who looked like a teenager was buzzed into the marijuana room. (Absent regulation, there is no age limit.) He walked out about a minute later, bag in hand. Who runs these places?
. . .
In some ways, we are at a unique point in the evolution of medical marijuana. In November, voters will consider Initiative 502, which would regulate the recreational use of marijuana. It calls for licensed pot stores and a heavy tax. How passage of the measure would affect dispensaries is unclear.
Many in the medical-marijuana industry oppose the initiative, saying patients could pay more in taxes for marijuana and could be ensnared by a new driving-while-stoned provision in the measure. Some in the business envision parallel tracks, one recreational, one medical, should I-502 pass. Alison Holcomb, campaign manager for I-502, predicts some dispensaries would convert to state-licensed stores.
Or the Legislature could see the potential tax windfall — estimated at up to $560 million a year, — and seek to channel users away from the unregulated, untaxed dispensary market. Of course, the Justice Department could block I-502 from being enacted, and federal law enforcement continues to be hostile to dispensaries. Regardless of the outcome, more regulation appears inevitable. Two champions of medical marijuana, state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Rep. Roger Goodman, hope to reintroduce comprehensive oversight in January.
“I do believe we need to overregulate, and if it’s clear the sky is not falling, we can be more permissive over time,” said Goodman.
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Find the full, original post HERE.
[iamge: Google images Washington]
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