Entrepreneurs Abuzz Over Washington’s Legalized Marijuana

When he decided to open a marijuana store, the first challenge Tom Beckley faced was getting kicked out of the house by his girlfriend.

“I’ve been sleeping in my truck,” he says.

But Mr. Beckley, whose Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham, Wash., became one of the first retail stores to open last week after Washington legalized the sale of marijuana, doesn’t seem perturbed. In fact, he looks relaxed and is optimistic. After all, his store had a lineup around the corner on Tuesday when it opened to sell greenery, bagged with names such as Cheese Quake and Catatonic, which sell for about $75 (U.S.) for a 3.5 gram bag.

In Washington, as with Colorado, the seeds of a new industry have been planted by citizens who voted to end the prohibition on weed. Beyond the jubilation of activists and smokers, though, are risk-takers such as Mr. Beckley who face unpredictability, complicated regulations, rigourous background checks and suppliers who are struggling to get licensed and grow their product. It must be meticulously barcoded, tested in a third-party lab for THC levels and quarantined before it is sold to the public with tobacco-like warnings.

These entrepreneurs see themselves as the vanguard of a new, billion-dollar industry. “It’s going to be bigger than anyone’s imagined,” says Mr. Beckley, who used to work as an electrical inspector for the city of Bellingham.

– Read the entire article at The Globe and Mail.