We all know that things are rarely black and white. All we can really do is just do our best to navigate through the many shades of gray. However, the State of Washington really seems like it’s gone out of its way to find every pothole filled road on its way to marijuana legalization … and the state’s citizens are the ones paying the price. Take for example …
Pete O’Neil saw Washington’s legalization of marijuana in 2012 as a path to retirement, or at least to his kids’ college tuition.
He’s paid tens of thousands of dollars in rent on possible locations for a pot-shop chain, hired lawyers and picked out flooring. But now the nation’s second legal recreational marijuana industry is about to start without him.
O’Neil struck out in Washington’s lottery for coveted pot-shop licenses. He has unsuccessfully tried to buy companies that scored a lucky number. In frustration, he’s turning what would have been his Seattle retail store into a medical marijuana dispensary.
“Our company is bleeding money, and I haven’t sold a single joint,” O’Neil says.
Granted, no one forced him to invest neck deep into a possible maybe, but the officials overseeing this program have forced the hands of all of the interested parties. They ran a lottery saturated with big money players filing multiple applications under various company names and then worked to determine their eligibility thus creating false hope among both the winners and losers. I mean really, they choose to issue retail licenses the day before you can legally start selling. You’ve got to be ready to go. And it’s not just on the store front …
Many industry hopefuls have found Washington’s delays maddening. Douglas Taylor spent $230,000 on land for his planned outdoor grow. The payments run $1,600 a month, and he says the board hasn’t even started reviewing his application. Meanwhile, he has missed the outdoor growing season — a revenue loss of about $500,000, he estimates.
Ed Rhinehart, 58, a retired businessman, counted on being licensed for an outdoor grow by April. He hired four workers, spent $22,000 on a required fence and dropped $10,000 on surveillance cameras. April 15, he laid everybody off. After months of back-and-forth with the board, Rhinehart expects to get his license soon. But he too will have missed the outdoor season.
So even if you manage to become one of the lucky few to get a license next week, the odds are you won’t have anything to sell. Is it ironic, intentional or just plain sad?