By Derrick Stanley
Washington state agents recently learned that minors may have a slightly easier time buying booze or cigarettes than pot at state-licensed stores.
State agents doing checks for all three restricted products say that licensed marijuana stores passed tests for selling to underage buyers 90 percent of the time. The compliance rate was slightly less in stores that sell liquor, at 86 percent. The compliance rate for tobacco sales was slightly lower than that, according to Justin Nordhorn, enforcement chief for the Liquor and Cannabis Board, which oversees all three products.
The state currently has more than 1,200 licensed growers and processors and 462 licensed marijuana stores, according to Board Director Rick Garza. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, it recorded almost $1 billion in sales. For the current fiscal year, that’s expected to hit $1.3 billion, even though the price of marijuana is falling.
When state-licensed marijuana stores first opened in 2014, pot was selling for about $30 a gram, he said. The current price averages $8.61 a gram.
The board's staff continues to develop regulations as the industry grows. In January the state Agriculture Department will begin spot testing marijuana for pesticides. In February, marijuana edibles will be required to carry a red sticker with a hand that says: "Not For Kids."