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Washington issues first legal pot business license

March 5, 2014

OLYMPIA, Washington (AP) — Washington state issued its first legal marijuana business license Wednesday, launching a new phase in the state’s ambitious effort to regulate a market that has been illegal for more than 75 years.

Sean Green, who has operated medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane and a Seattle suburb, proclaimed the document “beautiful” as it was handed to him at the state Liquor Control Board’s meeting in Olympia.

The license will allow him to grow 21,000 square feet (1,951 square meters)of cannabis at his Spokane facility — the first pot that will be grown for sale under the highly taxed system approved by voters in 2012.

“Cannabis prohibition is over,” Green declared to applause from a room packed with his supporters. “I’m coming home with jobs, Spokane.”

Sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado, the only other state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults over 21. But Colorado already had a regulated medical marijuana system and simply began by allowing medical dispensaries to sell recreational pot; Washington had no regulated medical system, and had to start from the ground up.

Washington’s first pot shop is expected to open in June or July. The board expects to issue 334 retail licenses statewide.

But even the issuance of the first license underscored the hurdles the industry continues to face. Pot remains illegal under U.S. federal law, and despite recent guidance from the U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments, banks continue to be wary of doing business with marijuana businesses.

Just last week, Green said, he learned his bank was closing his account because of Kouchlock’s connection to marijuana.


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