Washington, like Colorado, legalized marijuana through a voter initiative in 2012. Starting this year, the Liquor Control Board of Washington will begin licensing marijuana stores, growers, and processors to provide legal weed to the general public.
While the application process for those applying to become “licensed” under Initiative 502 is still underway, medical marijuana business owners and marijuana entrepreneurs have begun the process of setting up their businesses for what many hope to be a lucrative business.
We visited with Jason Gardiner, one of the owners of a Renton, Wash.-based medical marijuana store (and I-502 hopeful licensee), and Dante Jones, one of the business partners in charge of Grow Ambrosia (hoping to get a marijuana producer and processor licence), to see their operations.
Stores may not officially open until the spring, when the application process will finish, but we got a look at what the weed industry will look like in Washington.
Life's RX is a medical marijuana dispensary in Renton, Wash., a Seattle suburb where there are 6 other dispensaries like it. The store is applying to become a licensed recreational marijuana store under Seattle's I-502 law.
The store is located in a shopping mall with other suburban staples like dry cleaners, hair salons, and H&R Block.
The store is marked by a small sign and a discreet door. State officials are finicky about how large store signs are allowed to be.
This is the Life's RX waiting room. Patients have told Gardiner that the room is so professional that they feel comfortable bringing their mother.
This the Life's RX showroom, where you can see the various marijuana strains, foods, and other products. One patient told us that he usually spends 45 minutes in the store every time he comes so that he can talk to RX's employees about what products are best for his ailments.
The store carries more than 15 different strains of marijuana. Each produces different effects based on their strain (Indica, Sativa, or hybrid) and chemical composition.
Displayed around the store are large boards describing the strains that Life's RX has in stock. Indicas are good for pain relief and sleep aid, while Sativas provide energy and help with depression.
Once you've chosen your strain of choice, an employee will measure your desired amount in the scale.
Life's RX also has a variety of marijuana-infused foods, including ice cream, cookies, candy bars, and even drinks.
Kief Candies are hard candies infused with 1/8th gram of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). Eat two and you are likely to experience a mild buzz, pain relief, and drowsiness.
Golden Dragon is a tincture made with THC. Put a few drops on the tongue and, within minutes, you will begin to feel effects.
20 miles away, Green Ambrosia used to be known as the 'Walmart of pot' because it was the largest dispensary in Seattle. Due to regulation changes, however, the store no longer operates as a dispensary and is applying to become a licensed grower and processor of marijuana under the name Grow Ambrosia.
The weed center is looking to become a wholesale provider for I-502 stores, growers, and processors. They have access to thousands of strains, but keep their most prized ones on-site, in something they dub a marijuana 'museum.'
This strain is called Harlequin. It has a high THC to cannabidiol ratio, which means that it produces less psychoactive effects, while creating more medicinal effects like pain relief.
Northern Lights and Purple Kush (the left two plants in the back row) are highly popular Indica-strains, meaning they produce a heavy 'stoned' feeling (unlike Sativas) and are great for pain relief.
Blue Dream, a hybrid with a strong long-lasting body high and energetic, euphoric effects, is the most in-demand strain on the West Coast. It has won the High Times 'Cannabis Cup' multiple times.
Plants with short fat leaves (pictured) are usually Indica-dominant strains, while those with long leaves are usually Sativa-dominant.
Purple Pineberry originate from a grower in British Columbia, Canada and have a lemon, grape and pine flavour.
These seedlings are Bay-11, a hybrid and 2011 Cannabis Cup winner. They are produced by Grand Daddy Purp, a chain of medical dispensaries from California.
Grow Ambrosia also produces marijuana-infused baked goods like these peanut butter cup cookies. Unlike most marijuana edibles, Grow Ambrosia's are designed to produce effects within 15 minutes, as opposed to an hour or more.
Each cookie is considered a 'single dose' that lasts four hours. Those with low tolerance levels should beware, even half a cookie could be too strong.
Grow Ambrosia also keeps various marijuana-infused salves and lotions in stock. The salves and lotions relieve aches and pains, without producing any psychoactive effects at all, because they are applied to the skin.
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