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Legal marijuana sales kick off in Washington as retailers struggle to keep up

"There's clearly going to be a big shortage," says marijuana grower.

By Matt Bradwell
1/11
Legal marijuana sales kick off in Washington as retailers struggle to keep up
Steve McPeak, Seattle's Hemp Fest organizer, holds up his bag of marijunana purchased in Cabannis City, WashingtonÕs first recreational marijuana stores that open July, 8, 2014 in Seattle. Owner James Lathrop expects to sell all 10 pounds of pot at $15 to $20 per gram. Lathrop and his business manager had been working as many as 16 hours a day to prepare the business for its first customers. He said Cannabis City passed its two-hour state inspection last week. UPI/Jim Bryant | License Photo

SEATTLE, July 8 (UPI) -- On Tuesday, Washington officially became the second state with legal recreational marijuana sales as licensed retailers opened their doors to the public.

"It is exciting to be the only one, but also overwhelming," James Lathrop, owner of Seattle's Cannabis City told The Telegraph.

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The state of Washington issued 24 licenses to sell marijuana late Monday night, but Cannabis City was the only business in Seattle in a position to open right away.

"There's going to be a big line outside. We're going to have to try to make this like McDonald's, as efficient as possible, so people are in and out, boom, boom, boom."

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And Lathrop does not expect they'll be selling for long.

"We've only got 10 pounds of marijuana though and we expect it all to go very quickly on the first day," he said.

Lathrop and other retailers who won the lottery to sell marijuana are rushing to accommodate demand while simultaneously trying to comply with state regulations. Lathrop was one of the only winners ready to open right away because he spent tens of thousands of dollars on equipment, such as 11 security cameras, to comply with the law.

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"It was a very expensive lottery to win."

In addition to money, luck and resources, Lathrop also had one key thing many other retailers still lack: marijuana.

Only about 100 growers have received licenses out of some 2,600 applicants, and many of them were licensed too late to supply product for opening day.

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"There's clearly going to be a big shortage," explained grower Bob Leeds.

"Here, we have about 45 pounds of marijuana ready to go but all of it is spoken for. It will go to four retailers who haven't been licensed yet, but are hoping to be at some point. We have eight to 10 other retailers call us every day but we just don't have any product for them. By 2pm today there were 20 requests. I'm afraid they're going to have to wait three or four months for it."

Short supply has already caused single-day prices to fluctuate greatly, with customers of Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis claiming to pay prices ranging from $10 per gram to over $50 for two grams.

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