'Green' entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on legal weed industry
Published Sunday, June 9, 2013 10:09PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 9, 2013 11:14PM EDT
As lawmakers in Washington State continue to work out the details of how to regulate a recreational-pot market, hundreds of “green” entrepreneurs are looking for ways to bank on the budding industry.
From cannabis-friendly bowling alleys to cannabis cruises, lawyer Hilary Bricken, who specializes in cannabis issues, said a number of Washington residents have approached her with creative ideas on how to capitalize on the potential influx of pot tourists.
Once the veil surrounding the state’s hazy marijuana laws have been lifted, people hope to cash in.
“We call it cannabis tourism,” Bricken told CTV News. “If the right entrepreneurs get involved and they invest, we could be the Amsterdam of the United States.”
But those pot ventures will have to wait – at least for now.
The people of Washington voted to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana to adults over 21 last November in a citizens’ ballot initiative – it passed by a margin of 56 to 44 per cent – but it remains illegal under federal law, through the Controlled Substances Act.
Smoking the drug in public is still forbidden under Washington law, punishable by a civil infraction carrying a $103 fine. The sale of marijuana without a doctor`s note is also banned.
Everything from who gets to grow pot to how it gets taxed has to be figured out.
“It is lots of work involved,” Brian Smith, a spokesperson with the Liquor Control Board, said of writing new pot laws. “We are developing something that doesn’t have a blueprint.”
The U.S. Justice Department could also sue the state in an attempt to block licensing schemes from taking effect.
Last month, the Washington State Liquor Control Board gave the public a taste of what a legal pot state would look like after releasing a set of draft rules. The 46-page document covered an array of issues including labelling, product testing, advertising, and growing licenses.
The sale of marijuana is expected to begin in early 2014.
In Canada, pot-advocates such as Sensible B.C. have been watching the developments in the U.S. closely to see what – if any – new lessons can be applied north of the border.
The group will be launching a 90-day campaign in September to collect enough signatures from registered voters in B.C. in order to trigger a referendum in 2014 to decriminalize pot.
With files from The Associated Press