Washington cannabis shops hit by shortages on first day of legal sales

The shortfall meant many stores had to delay their openings
  • @kashmiragander

Cannabis vendors in the US state of Washington legally opened up their stores for the first time on Tuesday morning, but the day was marred by a lack of stock to satiate eager new customers.

Both Washington and Colorado voted to legalise the sale of recreational marijuana to adults over 21 in November 2012, and create state-licensed systems for growing, selling and taxing the drug.

While Colorado has been enjoying revenue from pot sales since January of this year, Washington issued its first 24 marijuana retail licenses on Monday. Only around six shops planned to open on Tuesday, with other shops set to begin sales later this week or next.

But due to a short supply of legally produced marijuana in the state, growers and sellers were left scrambling to prepare for the first day of sales, with some stores reporting it could be over a month before they have enough stock to open shop.

Although more than 2,600 people applied to become licensed growers, fewer than 100 have been approved — and only about a dozen were ready to harvest by early this month.

The issue is expected to cause pot prices to be rise higher than what people pay at the states unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries.

Colorado retailers did not suffer the same shortages, as it allowed existing regulated medical marijuana dispensaries to sell to recreational pot stores from 1 January.

But as Washington's medical system is unregulated, officials had to start from scratch and try to design regulations that covered both the industry and the public.

The rules include protocols for testing marijuana and requirements for child-resistant packaging. Officials also had to determine things like how much criminal history was too much to get a license, and what types of security systems pot shops and growers should have.

Washington law allows the sale of up to an ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of pot-infused solids, 72 ounces of pot-infused liquids or 7 grams of concentrated marijuana, like hashish, to adults over 21.