Insert marijuana pun headline here

July 8, 2014

By Peter Clark

Well, the first retail marijuana store opens this week. Like, for real. It’s really happening.

While I’m not much for pot, I do admit that I’ve found covering the state and Issaquah’s planning to enact Initiative 502 completely thrilling.

Reporter Bob Young at The Seattle Times this weekend posted a comprehensive FAQ regarding what retail marijuana will look like and what eager buyers can and cannot do with their legal grass. In the first question, he outlines a striking fact about Washington’s implementation of the initiative and why it took a year and a half before the first store opened.

“The short version: The state created something untested on the planet,” he wrote.

Peter Clark Press reporter

Peter Clark
Press reporter

That basically sums up my excitement over the whole lengthy, glacial process. Washington joined Colorado in an experiment to create a new branch of the existing economy complete with producers, processors, retail stores and many consumers.

The whole journey, which will not end here, has been an historic trip into unexplored territory. It’s the Wild West of economics. Only, I don’t think the lawlessness of the Wild West hosted so many public input forums.

The whole affair has also opened up a fascinating test of federalism in the modern age. As the political theory idiot that I am, I find the sheepish stare-down between state and federal law a glorious thing.

What could this mean for Issaquah? Though a retail store will not likely open in the city until late fall, even after it does, I do not personally believe it will bring any large change. I believe it will shed a little more light on a black market affair that has and will continue to serve those who want the product.

Through the many public input meetings the City Council held to gauge the community’s opinion, only a few people came and spoke. I have been told the council received emails about the subject, but most who spoke in person were against lifting the moratorium Issaquah has had in place since September.

The usual concern is the expected moral one, one that led two of the seven council members to vote against approving city regulations that would end the moratorium.

While I cannot fault their worry, I stick to my belief in the idea that if someone wants something, they’ll get it. At that point, the government might as well make some money from it and, I don’t know, pay our teachers more?

I suppose I do have a few concerns as implementation roles out and stores open.

Legal marijuana opens up large, long-term, distinctive possibilities for growing local jobs and local ownership of small businesses. I worry that over time, enormous investors will overtake the trade, choking out smaller commerce from local hands. But that’s the competitive nature of capitalism I suppose.

My other concern is that newspaper reporters, myself included, will have to continue to think up repetitive, inane puns in headlines for every single story about marijuana.

If that continues, I may have to gather signatures for my own initiative.


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