Washington state’s cannabis tracking contract up for bid

By Bart Schaneman

Washington state regulators have begun accepting bids for a new seed-to-sale tracking system to keep tabs on marijuana commerce, a deal with an initial value of about $3 million.

The competition likely will be fierce, given that the contract involves one of the nation’s largest cannabis markets.

But businesses won’t be squaring off against the provider of the state’s current seed-to-sale system, BioTrackTHC. The company said it has no plans to bid for the new contract,…

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Pacific Northwest marijuana investment network set to launch

Cannabis-related companies in Alaska, Oregon and Washington seeking capital may find some investors through the Cannabis Investment Network, an organization launching this week that aims to connect marijuana firms with financial backers.

Cannabis Investment Network (CIN) is hoping to serve smaller-scale firms that are looking to raise from $500,000 to $3 million, according to a news release. The self-described “angel group” will function more as a conduit to connect investors with potential investments, instead of…

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White House’s words won’t deter rec marijuana states

By John Schroyer

Despite ominous overtones from the White House, the eight states that have legalized recreational cannabis are proceeding full-bore, whether it’s with existing infrastructures or plans to establish new markets.

Governors and attorneys general responded in unison: They’ll honor voters’ wishes, and conduct business as usual while awaiting specific policies.

The cannabis industry’s future was called into question Thursday when President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said “greater enforcement” could…

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Washington state vows to fight any cannabis crackdown by feds

Washington state is ready to fight if necessary to keep its legal marijuana, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said after White House spokesman Sean Spicer hinted at a federal crackdown.

“We will resist any efforts to thwart the will of the voters in Washington,” Ferguson said, according to the Associated Press.

Spicer offered no details about what any renewed federal efforts in legal-cannabis states might entail but said he expected “greater enforcement” and drew a distinction between marijuana use for medical and recreational purposes.


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Washington state’s MJ edibles labeling rules target child safety

All edible marijuana products sold in Washington state must now carry a warning on the label notifying consumers they are “not for kids.”

The state requirement, which took effect Tuesday for marijuana-infused foods and soft drinks, consists of a red hand, the written warning and the Washington Poison Center’s telephone number, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported.


Spring 2017 MJBizCon
Marijuana processors are required to incorporate the label on new packaging or to affix a sticker to existing packaging to differentiate cannabis edibles from regular…

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WA rec cannabis cultivator closed, plants destroyed over tax issue

Regulators closed one of Washington state’s early marijuana businesses for allegedly failing to pay taxes.

And, for the first time, state agents confiscated and eradicated all the plants belonging to the cultivator, Nine Point Growth Industries.

Agents with the state Liquor and Cannabis Board late last week shuttered the company, which has grown and produced recreational marijuana in West Bremerton since September 2014. It was the state’s second licensed cannabis business. An agency spokesman cited recurring tax issues as the reason…

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Cannabis oil maker files trademark suit against WA grow

Headspace, a multimillion-dollar marijuana oil company in Southern California that sells a product called The Clear, filed a trademark infringement suit against a Washington state MJ cultivator, Podworks, for using a the name Top Shelf Clear for one of its products.

The trademark suit is believed to be the first in Washington involving cannabis, according to KING5.com. It comes amid a growing number of trademark disputes in the marijuana industry.

Cannabis is illegal under federal law, which complicates efforts by MJ companies to secure a…

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Under legal pressure, Seattle MJ retailer changes name

Facing a lawsuit from an Oregon tea company, a Seattle cannabis retailer has decided discretion is the better part of valor and announced it is changing its name to avoid legal entanglements.


Trump Report
The company, formerly known as Stash Pot Shop, said in a news release Tuesday it was threatened with legal action by Portland-based Stash Tea Co. The tea company is protective of its trademarked name and has sued other marijuana-related businesses, including Oregon-based Stash Cannabis Company, according to the release.

The Seattle shop has changed its…

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Marijuana data firm announces $2.5 million capital raise

One of the cannabis industry’s leading sales data firms announced Wednesday it has secured $2.5 million in private funding to expand its product line.


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Seattle-based Headset, which specializes in business intelligence for marijuana-related companies, revealed that it has partnered with Arizona-based Hypur Ventures, a venture capital fund, and Salveo Capital, an Illinois-based private equity fund, to bolster its services for clients in the cannabis trade.

Headset did not specify what exactly it intends to use the $2.5 million for, but…

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Private Washington state fund to boost medical cannabis access

Marijuana retailers in Washington state could see an uptick in business thanks to a proposed fund that would help foot the bill for low-income medical marijuana patients.

The idea is the brainchild of the 70-member Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), which hopes to have the fund up and running by spring 2017, according to the News Tribune. The fund is intended to expand patient access to MMJ.


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Anyone will be able to contribute to the fund, WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen said Tuesday. The fund will be administered…

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Privateer raises $40M, exceeds $100M in total funding

Privateer Holdings, a cannabis-focused private equity firm in Seattle, announced Friday it has closed on $40 million in convertible bridge financing, bringing its fundraising total to $122 million.

The news marks the first time a cannabis-related investment company has raised more than $100 million, Privateer said in a press release. The funding increase reflects growing investor interest in cannabis-related businesses.

Privateer said it will use the money to launch new ventures, make strategic acquisitions and expand its three existing…

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Week in Review: San Diego crackdown, WA eyes organic MJ & Britain says yes to CBD

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By Bart Schaneman and John Schroyer

San Diego targets illegal dispensaries while educating consumers about legit operations, Washington State has an eye toward organic certification, and Britain gives CBD the medicinal green light.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

San Diego: First of many crackdowns?

San Diego has teamed with a coalition of licensed medical cannabis businesses to crack down on illegal MMJ storefronts and, perhaps more important, to educate consumers about which…

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WA proposes new cannabis regulator, organic MJ program

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has proposed hiring a new cannabis regulator whose job could include administering a program to certify organically grown marijuana.

“There seems to be consumer interest in that,” WSDA spokesman Hector Castro said of organic certification, according to the Capital Press. “We have done this for other commodities, obviously.”

Since Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board has been responsible for regulating the industry.


Conference Deadline Approaching
The…

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Washington State Agencies Team Up for Cannabis Pesticide Testing

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Washington State Department of Agriculture announced they will team up to test for illegal pesticides on marijuana.

The two agencies will together work on pesticide enforcement, random testing, and testing when officials suspect illegal pesticides are being used, according to Komonews.com.

MJBizCrashCourseThe board will pay for specialized equipment needed for the tests, while the agriculture department will provide two employees to perform testing.

Under the agreement, the agriculture department will…

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Prominent Travel Writer: ‘Get Ready’ for Age of MJ Tourism

One of the most well-known travel writers in the world, Arthur Frommer, predicted recently that cannabis tourism is going to become big business after the November election, when up to five more states could legalize recreational use.

If accurate, marijuana tourism would present additional opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the legalization of marijuana.

“The prospects seem strong that marijuana is now about to be added to beer and wine as a permissible product to order,” Frommer wrote in a column last week, the…

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Washington MJ Company Sets Sights on Kroger, Other Mainstream Retailers

Ah Warner Cropped

By John Schroyer

A Washington State marijuana entrepreneur may be close to landing her cannabis-based health and beauty product line on the shelves of mainstream retailers such as Kroger-owned groceries and others.

If successful, it would mark a first for today’s cannabis industry: conventional retailers selling products containing THC.

Ah Warner, the founder and CEO of Cannabis Basics, said she struck a tentative deal last month with Crown Pacific Fine Foods to distribute her infused product line to retailers.

Crown Pacific is a Kent,…

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Marley Natural Expanding Across State Lines

A cannabis company sporting a legendary name is expanding into multiple states, joining a limited number of marijuana businesses that have crossed state lines.

Marley Natural, which is backed by Seattle-based Privateer Holdings, first launched in California in February and is now available in Oregon, in dispensaries in Portland and Eugene. Further expansion across the state is on the way.

A Marley Natural spokesman said in an email the company plans to have cannabis products on shelves in Washington State this fall. It also has “team…

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Chart of the Week: Monthly Marijuana Sales in Washington State Surpass $60 Million

chart on washington marijuana sales

By Eli McVey

The merger of Washington State’s unregulated medical marijuana industry into its recreational cannabis program has led to a huge spike in monthly sales for licensed retailers, indicating that the complicated transition is playing out as hoped.

In July, cannabis retailers posted an 18% spike in sales from the previous month, a new record for the regulated market. The $63.6 million in sales marked an increase of more than $10 million over the total in June.

The sizable gain comes on the heels of a July 1 deadline for all remaining…

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Appeals Court: DOJ Can’t Prosecute State-Legal MJ Businesses

In a big win for licensed marijuana companies, a federal appeals court in California ruled Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice can’t spend money to prosecute cannabis businesses that comply with state laws.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the DOJ must comply with the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which Congress first adopted in December 2014. It prohibits the DOJ from spending federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state marijuana laws.

The case wound up before the court, which covers…

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Washington Tribe Expanding Cannabis Business Interests

The Puyallup Tribe of Washington State is entering almost uncharted business territory: Having already opened a testing lab, it will now start growing and selling medical cannabis to members of its own tribe.

Traditionally, cannabis businesses either stay completely on the testing or the production/retail side of the industry, so as not to create an apparent conflict of interest. In fact, many states ban the practice.

But that apparently isn’t an issue for the Puyallup tribe, which intends to test its own product for pesticides, heavy…

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Trademark Board Hands Setback to Marijuana Businesses

A federal trademark board has issued a major setback to marijuana businesses seeking federal protection for trademarks and patents.

The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB) of the US Patent and Trademark Office ruled earlier this month that owners of state-licensed marijuana retailers can’t receive federal trademark protection on marks that are connected to cannabis sales because of marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 substance, according to an analysis by Ashe Puri at the Fox Rothschild law firm.

The ruling stems from a trademark…

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Chart of the Week: Number of Concentrates Product Lines Ballooning in Washington State

concentrates products

By Eli McVey

A surge in the number of concentrates product lines in Washington State’s recreational marijuana market attests to the growth in popularity of alternative consumption methods and highly potent cannabis, a trend seen across the industry at large.

According to retailer point-of-sale information provided by Headset, a Seattle-based cannabis industry data provider, the number of distinct concentrates product lines in Washington’s recreational market currently stands at 175, up from just 59 at this same time last…

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Unlicensed WA Dispensary Raided Following July 1 Deadline

Local law enforcement raided a Washington State medical cannabis dispensary after it continued serving customers and ignored a July 1 state deadline to obtain an official business permit.

The dispensary, Green Organics, is located in the Tacoma suburb of Parkland, near the Pierce County sheriff’s department.

“It is amazing that these people thought that they could flaunt the law right in front of our precinct. Now they know better,” a sheriff’s office spokesman told the News Tribune.

Green Organics could be the first of many such…

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WA Readies for Bumpy Ride as State’s Medical, Rec Markets Merge

Image of Washington Flag

By Omar Sacirbey

Washington’s cannabis industry is bracing for a July 1 deadline when unlicensed dispensaries must close under a new law that rolls the state’s medical marijuana program into its recreational program.

Some industry officials warn the MMJ sector will be decimated. But most industry observers reckon the state will fix the kinks.  

And while they’re prepared for a bumpy transition after Friday’s deadline, industry and government officials predict the new system ultimately will meet the needs of recreational and medical…

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Ancillary Tech Firm Raises $410k for Infusion Projects

A Seattle-based startup that focuses on technology to infuse products such as sugar with THC has raised $410,000 to help fund its growth.

DeepCell Industries, which isn’t a marijuana plant-touching company but stays strictly on the tech-development side, licenses its technology to cannabis product manufacturers, according to GeekWire. The company already has trademarked tech licensed to a firm called Green Labs that pays DeepCell for its Ruby Cannabis Sugar brand, which infuses sugar with…

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Keef Cola, Kiva Confections Form Expansion Partnership

Colorado-based CanCore Concepts, owner of the popular edibles brand Keef Cola, and California-based Kiva Confections, maker of cannabis-infused chocolates, have struck a new type of licensing deal that will give each company access to the other’s home market.

Under the agreement, both companies will not only distribute but also manufacture each others’ products on their home turf.

That means Keef sodas and other edibles will be sold in the roughly 850 California medical marijuana…

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Cannabis Branding Company Raises $8M for National Expansion

A marijuana branding company with a portfolio that includes partners in three western states announced on Tuesday that it has raised $8 million to support an ambitious expansion plan.

The company, Las Vegas-based Strainz, said in a press release that the influx of capital will allow the company to continue building its portfolio in Colorado, Nevada and Washington State, as well as expand into other markets and keep adding to its staff.

To date, Strainz’ Colorado partner, the Bronnor…

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Washington State Cannabis Growers Upset With Inventory Tracking System, Urge Fixes

cannabis complaints

By John Schroyer

BioTrackTHC, one of the most prominent cannabis software firms in the country, is under fire from commercial cannabis growers who say the inventory tracking platform it developed for Washington State is costing them time and money.

A group of growers began circulating an online petition on March 19 calling for numerous changes to the state’s recreational marijuana program, including a possible overhaul of the system BioTrack developed and currently maintains.

The…

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Illegal MJ Production Plummets in Washington State

Illegal marijuana production in Washington State has seen a spectacular decline since 2010, according to a new report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which suggests that most cannabis enthusiasts are turning to legal businesses instead of potentially cheaper black market marijuana.

The amount of processed marijuana the DEA seized dropped from 3,126 pounds in 2010 to just 635 pounds in 2014, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

The report also said the number of marijuana plants it seized…

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Washington Enacts MJ Product Recall Process

Washington State marijuana businesses are now subject to new rules under which various products can be recalled and even destroyed due to pesticide use.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board adopted emergency rules this week to address pesticides in cannabis cultivation, according to Seattle PI, and declared that the new rules “provide the ability to identify and remove products that have been found to pose a risk to public health in a fast and efficient manner.”

The new rules are 129…

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Testing Lab Suspends Operations

Testing Technologies in Poulsbo, Washington State, has hit pause on its cannabis testing services after firing its science director, alleging that potency values were “pulled from thin air” and that tests for contaminants were inaccurate.

The company’s CEO, Larry Ward, announced the situation in a letter to customers, according to the Seattle Times.

But the company’s erstwhile science director, Dustin Newman, who was fired Feb. 10, countered with his own letter alleging Ward let him go…

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WA to Close New MJ Retail Licensing Round March 31

Washington State’s new round of retail licensing will end with the month of March, the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board announced on Tuesday in a press release.

And it looks as though the state already has filled its quota, even though the licensing round is technically still open for a few more weeks.

“We are at the point where the number of highest priority applicants will exceed the number of available retail licenses,” LCB Licensing Division Director Becky Smith said in the…

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Hemp Cultivation Programs Get Green Light in MN, WA

Industrial hemp received the go-ahead this week in both Minnesota and Washington State, according to news reports.

Although the plant won’t yet be allowed to be grown by just anyone, a pilot program in Minnesota and a research program in Washington have gotten permission from their respective state legislatures to move forward. If they both prove fruitful, it could open up even more business opportunities in both states long term.

The Minnesota pilot program was okayed by the U.S. Drug…

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Report: Marijuana Legalization Battering Black Market in Colorado

Marijuana legalization is “crushing” the black market in Colorado, but the same hasn’t been true so far in Washington State, according to research cited in the Economist.

Annual legal cannabis sales in Colorado account for about 70% – or 90 tons – of all marijuana sales in the state, according to officials there, the magazine reported. Most of the rest is attributable to people who grow marijuana legally at home but then sell it illegally, creating what the Economist calls a…

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Washington Edibles Maker Expanding to Colorado

For a while now, the trend has been that Colorado-based edibles companies have been expanding into other states. Now, a Washington State-based one is expanding into Colorado for a change.

Db3, which produces the Zoots line of edibles, announced this week that it has partnered with the Bronnor Corporation, which will be manufacturing and distributing Zoots products in Colorado beginning the week of March 7.

Initially, Zoots will be available at two medical and recreational cannabis retailers in…

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WA to Withhold Safety-Related Info on MJ Shops

The Washington State Legislature approved a pair of bills this week that would exempt certain financial information, money-carrier routes, security plans and camera locations for marijuana businesses from the state’s public disclosure laws, according to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

“That type of information, in the wrong hands, can definitely be detrimental,” Jim Mullen, who owns two dispensaries in Vancouver, told the Bainbridge Review. “It’s like having the blueprints to a…

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Washington State Scrutinizing Cannabis Pesticide Use

Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) is cracking down on illegal pesticide use in the marijuana industry, but has yet to issue product recalls against offending cultivators.

In December, the LCB slapped “stop sales orders” against BMF Washington and New Leaf Industries, two of the state’s biggest marijuana growers, pending investigations into their use of prohibited pesticides, according to The Stranger. The LCB did not announce the stop sales orders to the public.

The…

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IRS Agent Guilty of Soliciting Dispensary Bribe

One way in which the marijuana business is similar to any other industry? Those trying to play by the rules can still get taken advantage of by corrupt government overseers.

Case in point: a Washington State jury has found an Internal Revenue Service agent guilty of trying to bribe a medical cannabis dispensary owner in Seattle, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.

According to trial records and testimony, Paul G. Hurley of Seattle was assigned to…

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Cannabis Incubator to Open in Tacoma

A developer and his partners plan to turn part of a recently-acquired former food-processing plant in Tacoma into an incubator for cannabis companies.

George Heidgerken and his partners in an LLC known as That Other Stuff recently bought the former Nalley Fine Foods plant in an industrial area of Tacoma, and will use part of the 22 acres for warehousing and part of it for cannabis growers and processors, according to the News Tribune.

The property has six buildings that cover about 400,000…

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WA May Allow Limited Home MJ Delivery in Seattle

A bill introduced at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia would allow a select few retailers to legally deliver recreational cannabis to customers.

As introduced earlier this month, the bill would create a pilot program and permit just five licensed rec shops to offer home delivery, according to KIRO 7 News. The bill would also establish requirements for employee training, delivery requirements and other regulations.

The bill, along with a recently announced crackdown on delivery services…

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WA Gives Seattle Dispensaries 14 Days to Get License

A new policy decision announced in letters to Seattle medical cannabis dispensaries last week has some worried that they may have to uproot their businesses.

MMJ dispensaries in the city now have just days left to decide whether or not they’ll try for a license within the city limits, move elsewhere, or close up shop, according to KING News. The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board reportedly decided that there are too few new licenses available for dispensaries in the city, and notified…

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Seattle Vows Delivery Services Crackdown

Seattle is moving to heighten enforcement of the state’s recreational marijuana law, including targeting illegal delivery services according to KING News. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board has estimated that black market marijuana accounts for about 28 percent of the marijuana market in the state.

Many delivery services openly advertise in local press outlets. Licensed marijuana stores say that black market sales must be stopped if legalization will be successful, according to…

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Seattle Opens More Real Estate to Marijuana Shops

The Seattle City Council on Monday approved new zoning regulations that would loosen zoning requirements on marijuana stores and expand the locations where they can operate, the Seattle Times reported.

The council voted to reduce buffers to 500 feet between marijuana stores and community gathering places like libraries and parks. The required buffer from cannabis retail locations to schools and playgrounds will remain 1,000 feet. The council also mandated 1,000 feet buffers between marijuana…

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Washington State Rec Store Sues Over Proposed Ban

Bans and buffer zones requiring marijuana businesses to be a certain distance from schools, parks and other entities make being a marijuana business complicated. Now, the owners of a proposed recreational marijuana store in Pierce County in Washington State are suing the county council for allegedly trying to zone them out of business, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

Ted Wetherbee and Michael Henery in September purchased a building on a state highway that runs through the county, where…

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Washington State Marijuana Prices Plummet

Recreational marijuana prices in Washington State have fallen by more than 50% in the last 18 months, helping the industry compete against the black market but also introducing new challenges for licensed cannabis businesses.

The reason for the price plunge? A deluge of new retailers and tax changes are forcing stores to cut prices in an effort to increase customer traffic and sales, the Longview Daily News reported.

When the recreational marijuana market launched in July 2014, the average…

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WA Marijuana Cannabis Shop Licenses to Jump 66%

Washington State will see more than a 66% increase in marijuana stores following a recommendation by analysts who have taken a close look at the state market.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said in a statement that it planned to increase the number of marijuana stores to 556 from 334, citing a desire to ensure access to cannabis for MMJ patients. A study by the BOTEC Analysis Corporation estimated that Washington has a $1.3 billion marijuana market, with medical accounting for…

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WA County Sees Dip in Rec Sales After Oregon Launch

Not surprisingly, recreational marijuana shops in southern Washington State took a big hit in October once Oregon residents could legally begin buying limited amounts of rec cannabis in their home state.

Sales in Clark County, Washington, which is right across from Portland, dropped from $1.8 million in September to $1.1 million in October, the Columbian reported.

But shop owners in southern Washington remain upbeat about their long-term prospects.

Those stores saw an unexpected spike in…

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Nearly 1,000 New Marijuana Retail Applicants in WA

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has so far received nearly 1,000 applications from businesses seeking a new cannabis retail license.

The official tally is 962 applications, according to the Olympian. And that’s only for storefronts that want to sell either medical or recreational cannabis (or both), and it doesn’t include companies that want to get into growing or manufacturing infused products.

Simultaneously, at least 118 recreational cannabis stores that already have…

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First Native American Cannabis Business Opens

Another milestone in the cannabis industry came to pass last week when the first Native American marijuana shop opened in Washington State.

Elevation, a new recreational cannabis shop owned and operated by the Squaxin Island Tribe, opened on the tribe’s reservation, which is located roughly two hours southwest of Seattle and just north of the state capital, Olympia.

The shop opened after the tribe cemented a deal with the Washington State government. Under the agreement, the tribe will…

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