Pot Shops Are Poles Apart In Colorado & Washington

Thread starter #1
Seattle - The first thing I noticed was that the pot stores here don't smell right and that they can be awfully hard to find. In Washington state, I visited several of the state's legal recreational marijuana stores as part of USA TODAY'S continuing coverage of the nation's fast-growing cannabis industry. I'm based in Denver, in the only other state that permits recreational sales, and my trip to Washington was intended to help me better understand the two states' approaches.

If you didn't know marijuana was legal in Washington state, you'd be hard-pressed to guess. Only 60 pot-shop licenses have been granted statewide. When I was there, only one store served all of Seattle, and it was basically out of stock. A second has since opened up. In Denver, more than two dozen marijuana stores serve downtown, and Colorado has licensed more than 230 retail stores. If I need to interview buyers or sellers, there are three stores within a one block of my downtown Denver apartment. While the states have created similar regulatory structures — tracking of plants, mandatory testing, background checks for those working in the industry — the differences are noticeable. Starting with that smell.

At Seattle's Cannabis City, all marijuana comes prepackaged from the producer. Washington's rules make it much harder for retailers to talk up the products they're selling because they can't just open up a jar and let customers sniff their pot. In Colorado, retailers are allowed to grow the pot they sell, which means many of the stores have large grow operations behind the counter. At Denver's 3-D Cannabis Center, for instance, customers can watch workers tend to dozens of plants growing under lights.

That means Washington's pot shops smell a lot more like a liquor store, while Colorado's tend to smell much like a brewery: A heavy marijuana funk tends to hang in the air. And yes, you can often smell Colorado marijuana grow operations while driving around Denver. In Seattle, the only times I smelled pot on the street was when homeless men and women lit pipes while huddled together out of the rain.

Huge numbers of tourists are visiting stores in both states, drawn by the novelty of buying legal pot. Time and time again, I've seen empty-nesters tentatively walk in, confessing they used marijuana a bit in college and put it away when the kids came. But with the kids grown, a surprising number of couples come in to explore.

Once people figure out what I do for a living. I end up discussing youth drug use with school counselors, talk about mold and pesticides with store owners, debate federal drug-trafficking laws with federal agents, and explain to my parents and my boss that no, I still haven't tried it. (I also cover murders, and I haven't tried that, either.)

In Seattle, I interviewed a lot of people whose comments never made it into my stories. USA TODAY has strict rules that require, with few exceptions, quoting people by name, and lots of people I talked to were nervous that a family member or employer might read their comments. That comes with the territory when you cover a substance that's not exactly legal. Marijuana remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government, and lots of people are unwilling to admit they use it. In Colorado, though, people are getting much more comfortable talking about using pot, now that it's been 10 months since recreational sales began and the federal government hasn't shown much interest. In Washington, there's still that "pinch me; is this real?" sentiment on display. That is, if you can find any pot for sale.



News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Usatoday.com
Author: Trevor Hughes
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Voices: Pot shops are poles apart in Colo., Wash.
 

Bangabong

Well-Known Member
Very interesting comparison. I knew there was some differences in how Colorado and Washington structured their cannabis laws, but never really thought about how that would translate in their marketing and retailing of cannabis. Thanks for the brain candy!
 
The supply and location issues will get fixed in Washington over time (there will be over 300 retail shops licensed eventually), but the point you made about smell is an interesting one. Washington doesn't allow open packages in stores and since nothing is grown at the sales locations, the shops are even more sanitary than a liquor store. Everything is vapor sealed in thick bags before it arrives.

Shops can open a bag and put some into a secure smelling jar, but most don't given product is in short supply and expensive right now. The idea of big Mason jars full of buds will never happen.

So yeah, a very different experience. I much prefer Colorado's system, but live in WA, so I make the best of it. Still a lot better than not having shops.

The really big difference is that Washington's underground weed supply line is growing and likely to be largely unaffected by legalization, while CO has a chance to move more consumers to legal outlets given their lower taxes and greater supply. WA's only hope to move most people to legal pot will be to grow tons of it outdoors in Eastern Washington, which has an excellent climate for one crop a year. Think world leader in growing Apples, cherries and hops (a close cousin on cannabis). I'm betting next summer's outdoor crop will be huge.

Very interesting comparison. I knew there was some differences in how Colorado and Washington structured their cannabis laws, but never really thought about how that would translate in their marketing and retailing of cannabis. Thanks for the brain candy!
 
i wish we followed after colorado.. i would love to have a garden behind the recreational store.

I&i


The supply and location issues will get fixed in Washington over time (there will be over 300 retail shops licensed eventually), but the point you made about smell is an interesting one. Washington doesn't allow open packages in stores and since nothing is grown at the sales locations, the shops are even more sanitary than a liquor store. Everything is vapor sealed in thick bags before it arrives.

Shops can open a bag and put some into a secure smelling jar, but most don't given product is in short supply and expensive right now. The idea of big Mason jars full of buds will never happen.

So yeah, a very different experience. I much prefer Colorado's system, but live in WA, so I make the best of it. Still a lot better than not having shops.

The really big difference is that Washington's underground weed supply line is growing and likely to be largely unaffected by legalization, while CO has a chance to move more consumers to legal outlets given their lower taxes and greater supply. WA's only hope to move most people to legal pot will be to grow tons of it outdoors in Eastern Washington, which has an excellent climate for one crop a year. Think world leader in growing Apples, cherries and hops (a close cousin on cannabis). I'm betting next summer's outdoor crop will be huge.

living next to yakima i know exactly what your talking about. if legislature doesnt pull things together this march itll be fuel right on top of the blackmarket fire we have in washington already.

I&i
 
Colorado wrote the less restrictive law for very good reasons, biggest is if you restrict the location of the marijuana cultivation then it opens the door for black market growers to enter the local legal market. In Colorado the open approach relaxes the minds of the enforcers, the growers and the buyers. At the same time some of the taxes from sales in Colorado goes to a special department that oversees the whole operation here. For instance there were a few busts after the passage of amendment 64 but before the recreational sales went into affect that targeted outsiders from trying to establish residency here. Several ties to Mexican cartels were found. I don't know if Washington has this special task force or not but they should. I think Colorado is doing a great job of keeping the outsiders out and keeping the local growers in business. Perhaps on the federal level this makes us look good and so far no need for feds to start shutting it all down.

X:peace:
 
Colorado wrote the less restrictive law for very good reasons, biggest is if you restrict the location of the marijuana cultivation then it opens the door for black market growers to enter the local legal market. In Colorado the open approach relaxes the minds of the enforcers, the growers and the buyers. At the same time some of the taxes from sales in Colorado goes to a special department that oversees the whole operation here. For instance there were a few busts after the passage of amendment 64 but before the recreational sales went into affect that targeted outsiders from trying to establish residency here. Several ties to Mexican cartels were found. I don't know if Washington has this special task force or not but they should. I think Colorado is doing a great job of keeping the outsiders out and keeping the local growers in business. Perhaps on the federal level this makes us look good and so far no need for feds to start shutting it all down.

X:peace:
Washington is also very good at keeping outsiders and the Feds out of the picture. I haven't heard of any imported weed in the populous western half of WA in many years. Its just lots and lots of small guys who grow a few pounds a month out in rural areas, either in buildings or small greenhouses. They supply most of the needs of the state through this small-scale craft industry. For the most part, local weed is very good.

Legalization in WA required starting from (nearly) ground zero with lots of controls. A number of long-time growers went legal, but my concern has been the flock of inexperienced cannabis growers who have rushing in, hoping to make a killing. The "if I can grow apples I can sure as hell grow weed" crowd. Not sure how long it will take these otherwise very experienced growers to figure out how to grow great cannabis. Begs the question whether producing primo buds is just a matter of good "plant sense" or if there are difficult-to-learn cannabis secrets. In their defense, those expert green-thumbs can all buy the excellent cannabis grow books and read up.

In CO, the state simply leveraged the expertise that was already growing great MMJ. At least until this month when new growers that are unaffiliated with MMJ operations can get licensed. That was really smart and efficient and gave them a huge head start.

My expectation is that in the end, both states will have lots of excellent legal weed at reasonable prices, and the controls will be enough to keep the feds at bay (at least the Obama/Holder administration -- all bets are off with a change in leadership).

To that end, I'm far more concerned about the feds backtracking on their decision (which are UNSUPPORTED by any legislation) to reduce enforcement under certain conditions. There are lots of worried drug warriors who are itching for a backlash. That could change with a new Attorney General or President. Anyone who thinks legalization is a wave that will wash away all opposition simply doesn't understand the ying and yang of politics in this nation. We go left and then we go right and then left, and anything that isn't nailed down with legislation can change in a heartbeat. Literally. Anyone think Joe Biden wouldn't crack down if he had a chance? He's infamous for his anti-recreational drug position. Or most high-office Republicans for that matter.

CO and WA (and hopefully DC and Oregon, even Alaska) must have well-established and well-managed markets by the time that happens (with happy neighboring states), and even then its iffy. Until its de-scheduled, if that ever happens, the jeopardy remains. And given the way most of the rest of the country (other than West Coast) is approaching MMJ, they have a LOT of catching up to do. Demonizing weed is still very popular in many areas.

So, enjoy legal weed, but don't forget how to grow your own if needed. And be nice to your underground dealer. Never know when you'll need that connection again. We are not over the hump yet. Not even close.
 

Bangabong

Well-Known Member
I completely agree Shadar, politics are a fickle and shady business, and we the people always get stuck in the ebbs and flows.
 

JoKo

New Member
Sorry your trip to Seattle wasn't up to your expectations. You should have looked at all the free glossy MJ magazines laying around the dispensary s. You would have seen ads for farmers markets, and many businesses that offered free dabs, joint and a gram for new members. And you may have found the Galaxy market, a mall with everything herb. Super friendly vendors with goods to fondle, eat, drink and smoke on the premises. Blew me away on my last trip. NW Cannabis Market Grow stores were not evident, but then you have Spokane where 6 are highly visible.
 
Sorry your trip to Seattle wasn't up to your expectations. You should have looked at all the free glossy MJ magazines laying around the dispensary s. You would have seen ads for farmers markets, and many businesses that offered free dabs, joint and a gram for new members. And you may have found the Galaxy market, a mall with everything herb. Super friendly vendors with goods to fondle, eat, drink and smoke on the premises. Blew me away on my last trip. NW Cannabis Market Grow stores were not evident, but then you have Spokane where 6 are highly visible.
I think you are confusing MMJ with Recreational Cannabis. NW Cannabis and Galaxy are Medical as are the farmers markets. This article had to do with comparing the only two legal recreational markets, CO and WA. No comparison between the medical market (which is very well developed) and the infant recreational market.
 
youll find me at the galaxy for a hour every sunday! ha. i love that place. i work/run a collective and still go to the galaxy, mainly for the friends i have formed there. just like this community, someone starts talking about the plant and im zoned in.

about medical being (well developed) i wouldnt go as far as saying that, but yes we are functional.

pulling into the galaxy parking lot is one of my favorite smells (and i cant stand citys)
next favorite is inside a grow. right when the lights go off, the smell seems to be at her peak

I&i