Marijuana Shortage Seen Ahead Of Washington State retail pot rollout

WASHINGTON:  His glass pipes are on display and final regulatory hurdles nearly cleared, but the biggest concern for Cannabis City owner James Lathrop as he opens his Seattle pot shop this week is the possibility of running out of mind-altering bud in a matter of hours.

“What do you do when your shelves are empty? Do I just send everybody home? Do we try and stay open? I can’t pay people if we aren’t selling anything,” said Lathrop, who expects to become one of Washington state’s first legal marijuana retailers this week as the state issues licenses.

The state is poised on Monday to become the second after Colorado to allow retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults, under a heavily regulated and taxed system that voters approved in November 2012. Stores could begin operations as early as Tuesday, with up to 20 expected to open statewide.

While Colorado, where regulated retail sales rolled out fairly smoothly in January, is collecting millions of dollars per month in tax revenues, Washington has charted a glacial and more halting path to market.