WASHINGTON: Like Colorado, Washington voted to legalize marijuana in November 2012. But 18 months later, not a single ounce of legal recreational pot has been sold in the state.
Washington has repeatedly delayed implementation of its new law. The state has, for example, delayed issuing licenses for marijuana growers and processors twice — and punted the launch of retail businesses from this spring to July at the earliest.
Washington shows just how difficult it is to establish a legal marijuana industry. Legalization is not a matter of just turning the switch; it instead involves a long, complicated process of balancing concerns about the drawbacks of marijuana and the public’s willingness to allow the drug for recreational use. For Washington, how to achieve that balance is a work in progress.
“You have to understand that, other than Colorado, no one has done this in the world,” says Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Board, which is overseeing the state’s marijuana businesses. “There’s no blueprint, and every step of the way of the way as you go forward there are challenges.”