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Local marijuana retailer presents at chamber

 

Sean Luna of B Street Bud. - Jacob Wagner photo

B Street Bud, Grand Coulee's marijuana shop, has now been in operation since New Year's Day 2016, and has to follow a lot of rules in their line of business.

Employee Sean Luna spoke to the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 2 about the nuances of how the business operates, describing some of the laws for growing, delivering, selling, buying, and smoking.

To be a seller, B Street Bud had to apply to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board for a marijuana retail license, and then be chosen in a lottery, a method used because there are limits to how many places can sell marijuana in the state. There are currently no applications available in the state.

Sellers are required to have a full camera system in their business with cameras required to be at a certain resolution, high enough to show the details of a person's face, as well as alarms on all windows and doors.

Another complication for sellers is that most banks won't take in marijuana money, because, while legal at the state level, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. A very few financial institutions do allow marijuana money to flow through their system, according to Luna. He mentioned a Spokane-based credit union.

Sellers cannot be growers under state law; they buy their products from growers. B Street Bud has purchased their products from roughly 100 growers, said shop owner Jean Comstock. According to a recent Seattle Times article, the state has licensed more than 1,300 legal pot-growing and processing companies and more than 500 retail stores.

Growers have a number of regulations to follow, as well, including video surveillance of their operations. As Luna put it, marijuana "is tracked from seed to sale."

Delivery drivers for growers follow regulations to deliver the marijuana to the retail shop, and are required to chart their course before driving, keep the product in a locked box, and keep all paperwork with the product.

Luna said that prices of recreational marijuana have dropped considerably since first being legalized in Washington in 2014, when one gram of flower/bud could go for $56 dollars in the beginning, but now commands anywhere from $7 to $15.

Recreational buyers must be at least 21 years of age, and can have up to one ounce of marijuana flowers (bud), 16 ounces of solid edibles, up to 72 ounces of infused liquid products, and up to seven grams of concentrates. The legal limits for medical marijuana are three times these amounts, and registered medical customers do not have to pay the 7.9-percent sales tax.

Buyers cannot resell the product, cannot send it through the mail, and can only smoke it at their or their friends' private property, not in public. It is illegal to smoke it in a hotel room, as well.

Luna said there is a wide variety to the customers they get. With anyone 21 and over able to purchase marijuana, the clientele ranges from the younger end of the spectrum to the older, from locals to tourists. Since opening, Comstock said she has only received positive feedback from people about her business.

Because it is a mind-altering substance, it is recommended to wait five hours after smoking marijuana before driving a car. When transporting it, customers must keep the product in their trunk, along with the receipt. They cannot keep it in their glove box or in the cab where it is easily accessible.

The legal driving limit for active marijuana in the system is five nanograms, which is measured through a blood test. Marijuana is treated similarly to alcohol, in that violation of the limits will result in the same penalties, such as DUIs (Driving while Under the Influence).

Eight states currently have legalized recreational marijuana, and 29 have legalized medical marijuana. Washington state is still fine tuning its laws, and state lawmakers have told the Liquor and Cannabis Board to come up with a recommendation for laws for recreational growing of marijuana by Dec. 1.

Washington is the only state to legalize recreational use of marijuana while not allowing recreational growing, and so is looking into the best way to do so.

In the fiscal year that ended in June, nearly $1.4 billion of legal sales were recorded in the state, up almost 75 percent from the year before, according to figures reported by the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

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