British Columbia

Pot retailers, growers in Washington gear up for legalization

Pot retailers and growers in Washington are hoping to cash in on changes to marijuana laws that legalize recreational marijuana use.

Meanwhile, B.C. activists hope to trigger provincewide referendum on pot possession

Prepping for Washington pot changes

10 years ago
Duration 2:37
Seattle retailers and growers getting ready for legal changes

Pot retailers and growers in the state of Washington are hoping to cash in when recreational marijuana use becomes legal, just as B.C. activists hope to trigger a provincewide referendum on pot possession.

Voters in Washington opted to legalize recreational pot use in March and the first dispensaries, regulated by the state's liquor board, are expected to open in 2014.

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Under Washington's new rules, there will be 334 pot stores in the state, including up to 15 close to the B.C. border. A gram will retail for roughly US $8 to $10, of which roughly 40 per cent will be tax.

Meanwhile in British Columbia, a group working to decriminalize the possession of marijuana has launched a petition aimed at stopping police from cracking down on pot smokers in the province.

Starting Sept. 9, Sensible BC will have 90 days to collect signatures from 10 per cent of the registered voters in each of B.C.'s 85 ridings.

If the group succeeds, it could trigger a referendum on whether to amend B.C.'s Police Act to prohibit the use of provincial police resources to enforce simple possession and use laws for adults.

In Washington, marijuana producers, processors and retailers will be able to apply for licences starting Nov. 16.

John Davis, who runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, currently sells product only to customers with a doctor’s note — everything from bud to chocolates to marijuana sodas.

John Davis runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Wash. (CBC)

"We have baked goods … we have sweets and savouries."

But with recreational sales on the way, Davis plans to use the store as a template to apply for a retail licence so he can sell to anyone.

"I don't think you're going to see something that is wildly successful the first year," he said. "There's going to be a lot of problems with it. We're going to have to come back and revisit it."

‘This is possible’

As cannabis crusaders in B.C. petition to change the province's enforcement laws, retailers and growers in Washington are getting ready for legal pot sales. (CBC)

Marijuana producer Muraco Kyashna-tocha currently grows her bud for medical users, but she’s eyeing a licence to produce it under the new rules.

"I think what this means for the rest of the planet is they start to think that this is possible," she said.

"If two states in the U.S. have legalized cannabis, then you can't say it’s not possible in B.C. anymore."

Last November, voters in Colorado also passed an amendment making the limited sale, possession and growing of marijuana for recreational purposes legal for adults 21 and over.

The move could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana. Alaska is scheduled to vote on the question next year, and a few other states plan similar votes in 2016.

Pot-friendly U.S. states won't see federal intervention

The U.S. government says it won't challenge Washington and Colorado. President Barack Obama himself has admitted to smoking pot when he was younger.

U.S. federal law still forbids marijuana use and possession and the White House maintains that prosecution of drug traffickers, including anyone transporting the drug out of the two states, remains a priority.

With files from the CBC's Chris Brown