Why Don’t Washington State’s Retail Marijuana Stores Have Any Pot for Sale? – Slate Magazine

Photo by Cliff DesPeaux/Reuters
An employee restocks a medical marijuana dispensary’s shelves in Seattle in 2012.

Photo by Cliff DesPeaux/Reuters

There’s a weed shortage in Washington. Three months after regulators in the state gave the go-ahead for retail marijuana stores to open their doors in July, licensed storefronts remain few and far between. And in the relatively few shops that do exist, there’s a noticeable lack of product. The state’s slow, weed-deprived start stands in stark contrast to the scene in Colorado, where regulators have largely delivered on their promise to quickly create a robust retail market.

Josh VoorheesJosh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

Just how big is the gap between Colorado’s bounty and Washington’s scarcity? As of late last month, according to the Seattle Times, Washington officials had handed out 57 licenses to retail weed stores, many of which still haven’t opened due to a mix of supply and zoning problems. In Colorado, meanwhile, at least 40 retail shops began selling pot on Jan. 1, the first day sales became legal. Today, more than 240 recreational shops are in operation, a number that is set to grow to nearly 300 after Colorado handed out 46 new licenses to retail stores last week.

The contrast is even bigger in each state’s largest city. Supply is so hard to come by for Seattle’s two retail stores that the owners have had to get creative. Cannabis City has resorted to flying a flag outside on those occasions it does have bud for sale. The second, Uncle Ike’s, opened last week with limits on how much a customer could buy in hopes that it could stretch its initial stock into a second week. Customers in Denver, meanwhile, can pick and choose …read more