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Washington state’s legal pot market budding slowly

It’s been nearly two months since Washington state’s first legal pot shops opened for business. While limited supply remains an issue for some, sales have more than doubled in the past four weeks.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board reports sales of legal marijuana by licensed growers, processors and retailers totaled $6,983,507 in August, compared with $3,219,562 in July.

The state is set to collect $1,745,877 in taxes from the August sales.

The system is far from fully up to speed. A limited number of producers were granted licenses to start growing in time for the start of retail sales, and they sold out quickly, leaving retailers in the lurch.

Since then, the state has continued approving licenses for more growers, and more pot is slowly hitting the market.

But there’s still not enough for Seattle’s only retail pot shop. Cannabis City in the SoDo neighborhood continues to face significant shortages, unable on many days to offer any marijuana and quickly selling out as product comes in.

The situation hasn’t been as dire for Bothell’s Herbal Nation, where business is booming.

The Seattle area’s only other retailer opened on August 18, and has been able to offer marijuana every day since then, says spokesperson Lauren Downes.

“We waited an entire month to open to establish strong relationships with our growers,” says Downes. “We pride ourselves on the fact that we have established these relationships and maintained consistent supply, and we do not foresee having any supply issues in the future.”

Downes says the shop is serving over 1,000 people every day, who are paying between $17.99 and $34.99 per gram depending on THC and CBD content and overall quality.

“I do see the price dropping as more supply hits the market, but I do not see prices dropping down to what we have traditionally seen in the medical market or black market,” she says.

The company tries to offer seven different varieties, but supply of some remains sporadic at best, Downes says.

“As these producers continue to get used to this system and harvest and get their end of it down, we’ll see consistent supply,” she says.

In addition to more producers coming on line and more product coming to market, the WSLCB expects more retailers to open in the coming months as qualified applicants are approved, further expanding the availability of legal pot statewide.

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