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Where The First State-Licensed Pot Shops Are, And Why Some Will Wait To Open

Map by Malcolm Griffes
Scroll down for the full embedded map, which we are updating as we hear back from licensees.

Twenty four retailers around Washington state received a special email today, giving them official approval to open their doors and start selling marijuana. The licenses clear the way for the state’s first recreational pot shops to open sometime Tuesday.

This is just the first wave of licensed pot retail shops in Washington; the rest will gradually roll out in the coming months. Todd Shirley, for one, says he’s planning to hold off on opening his south Seattle shop until this fall.

“I believe there might be some available supplies at decent pricing around that time,” Shirley said.

Waiting, Shirley says, will let him avoid some of the challenges facing the first batch of stores. Some of those retailers have said they expect to sell out almost immediately.

“You open your doors for two or three days until your product runs out, then what do you do? Do you close your doors? Do you keep staff on?” Shirley said.

Shirley says he’ll head down to the grand opening of Cannabis City, the only pot shop expected to open in Seattle Tuesday. He says he expects his competition to be selling marijuana for about $25 a gram or more — more than twice what it costs at most medical marijuana stores.

Shirley predicts the price will settle down to something closer to $15 a gram. But he says consumers should expect volatile pricing and supply for the next one to two years as Washington’s marijuana industry finds its footing.

Alison Holcomb, the author of Washington’s pot legalization law, agrees the initial rollout will include a few wrinkles, but she expects things to smooth out quickly.

“The Liquor Control Board is continuing to bring on producers, so I’m confident that in the next several months, we’ll start to see the market level out,” said Holcomb, criminal justice director for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Eventually as many as 334 retail stores could be operating across Washington.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.
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