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Celebration, Angst as State Starts Accepting Pot License Applications

Austin Jenkins
Jeff Gilmore, right, with partner Dave Brown have applied for a license to grow legal marijuana.

The 30-day window for marijuana business licenses applications has opened in Washington. Would-be growers, processors and retailers applied online and in-person Monday.

At the Department of Revenue business licensing office, the flow of in-person applicants was more of a trickle, not a torrent on this historic day.

“This is absolutely amazing,” said Jeff Gilmore, who was among the first to apply for a license to grow legal pot after a career of growing illegally. “The state of Washington took two years of my life for growing marijuana two decades ago.”

Now, Gilmore says, he’s trading the risk of incarceration for a different risk.

“If we don’t succeed in business, then we don’t succeed in business,” he said. “We don’t end up in jail.”

Gilmore says it’s “about time” he has the chance to become a law-abiding, taxpaying businessman.

Not everyone’s as eager. Chris Thompson, a former construction worker, feels forced to participate.

“I’m 42 years old. I’ve got pins and screws all over my body. My back’s bad,” said Thompson, who has been growing medical marijuana for the past four years.

“And not only does it make me money, but I help a whole lot of people doing it,” he said.

But Thompson fears the state will soon crackdown on the medical side of the marijuana industry, so, reluctantly, he’s decided to get licensed under Washington’s voter-approved recreational pot system.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.