Mark 2013 an historic year for Washington State. Marijuana was decriminalized, and today authorities (the Washington Liquor Control Board and advisors) approved a set of regulations for wholesale and retail distribution of marijuana. The new pot rules take effect in one month.
Most of the USA is unaware of the rapid changes in Washington and Colorado over the past 2 years. A marijuana industry has quickly evolved from the quiet medicinal marijuana trade that was approved years ago, with both entrepreneurs and pot-loving citizens pushing hard for what is expected to become a lively commercial marketplace. Governments want the taxes, business men want the revenues, and citizens of Washington and Colorado want to be free to get high.
We hope everyone will dig deeper into what this means for drug use and society, including the impact on healthcare, substance abuse, treatment issues, and the connections between marijuana and abused drugs. In the mean time, here’s some sampling of what is happening in Washington, where pot is legal and these new regulations will enable a legal commercial trade in 2014:
- Seattle, a “small large city” with less than 3 million citizens, already has an estimated 200+ medical marijuana dispensaries providing legal marijuana to its customers, who have registered themselves (and paid approximately $75 to a doctor), claiming to need marijuana for medicinal purposes.
- Seattle is now approved for 21 “pot stores” in addition to medicinal dispensaries. Pot stores will be allowed to sell marijuana to any one of legal age, without any requirement for a medical marijuana permit.
- Over 330 pot stores are allowed in Washington State under the new rules. Some counties have been approved for much larger numbers of pot stores than Seattle, relative to population density. The rules were set for complex commercial reasons.
- Lawyers, doctors, therapists and specialists are all seeking ways to diagnose, prescribe, dispense, or sell marijuana, support the emerging marketplace, and strike gold “selling shovels” into this latest Gold Rush.
The “business of marijuana” is expected to be BIG. Communities are already seeing commercial success with vendors of glass pipes and other drug using paraphernalia previously considered illicit. Numerous “grow ops” are operating like small farming co-ops, with startup shuttle services moving regulated quantities of marijuana back and forth between often “top secret” farms and their medical dispensary clients, who are regulated with respect to how much pot and how many marijuana plants they can have on premises at one time.
Society has to resolve numerous issues as marijuana prohibition is repealed. Drugged-driving is a concern, street use of marijuana, smoking in public, smoking on balconies and within multi-family residences, drug use policies and enforcement… the list is extensive, with very little fully addressed as we move into a time of legal, retail marijuana.