Seattle Vice: Marijuana Industry Springs From Northwest Tradition

WASHINGTON: In the 1860s, Washington state gave Benjamin Sprague a franchise to captain a boat. He called it Gin Palace Polly, and used it to bring liquor and women to logging camps around Puget Sound.

Today, it’s state-licensed marijuana sales that highlight the region’s free-wheeling attitude toward trade in what some consider vice. This “economy of sin” is what the Puget Sound Business Journal’s May 30 print edition explores — the burgeoning local industries built on products that once were illegal: marijuana, beer and liquor.

The economic impact of these industries adds up to billions, and the entrepreneurs are as creative as they come. To whet your appetite, we asked local historians to explain why the Northwest seems to have a particular bent for making a buck off people’s peccadillos.