Last week was a big one for cannabis business and legislation.
In Colorado, cannabis sales in the first legally operating adult use cannabis state surpassed 10 tons/month, which at this rate will net 130 metric tons/ year. According to Time, sales are surpassing previous estimates by over a third.
In Brooklyn, District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced a friendlier medical marijuana policy--his office will no longer prosecute almost anyone carrying up to two ounces of cannabis. This will effectively legalize possession of moderate amounts--assuming people don't consume or smoke their medicine in public.
And in Seattle, adult use finally went official with dispensaries opening their doors after six months of confused and delayed legislation.
A Spokane man who reportedly waited on line for 19 hours to be the first person to legally purchase cannabis in Washington had his photo taken by a local paper. When his boss saw it, he was fired. Backlash ensued, and the Spokane man's employer soon had the man re-instated. Way to go, Washington!
Now that it's legal, just where in the state can Washingtonians consume cannabis? This question was answered by Seattle city weekly The Stranger last week. In short--cannabis can only be enjoyed in private. Nowhere "within view of the general public" is cannabis consumption technically allowed--which means that even Amsterdam-style coffee shops are out of the question.
In addition, if you hold a liquor license, you are prohibited from smoking on your property, so that excludes restaurants, bars, and liquor stores, too.
This raises a sticky issue, city attorney Pete Holmes says. What do you do if you rent a non-smoking apartment, or are staying in a smoke free hotel? If you don't own property, you basically can't legally smoke cannabis anywhere.
But where to smoke seems to be only part of the hindrances entangling the state. Supply issues plagued many newly opened dispensaries on July 8. An inexperienced, poorly informed company consulting with the state on the legalization process vastly underestimated the market-- and the state listened to them, unfortunately. This meant that long lines at dispensaries ended with disappointment for many consumers, as stores quickly ran out of product, only being able to stock a certain, legally prescribed amount. This, combined with the fact that a very low amount of licenses have been issued thus far (only 21 for the entire city of Seattle), means that the legal cannabis market will not replace the black market as quickly as advocates had hoped.
While it's still very exciting that the state has gone legal and that dispensary doors are finally open, it's apparent that the battle against the black market has just begun.
One small step for man, one giant leap for the rest of the country.