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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Celebration And Angst As Marijuana License Application Window Opens

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Jeff Gilmore, right, with partner Dave Brown have applied for a license to grow legal marijuana. Gilmore says he was busted two decades ago for growing pot and believes it’s “about time” he can do so legally.";s:3:

Would-be growers, processors and retailers applied online and in-person Monday as the 30-day window for marijuana business licenses applications opened in Washington.

At the Department of Revenue business licensing office, it was more like a trickle, rather than a torrent, of in-person applicants on this historic day.

“This is absolutely amazing,” says Jeff Gilmore, who was among the first to apply for a license to grow legal pot after a career doing it illegally.

“The state of Washington took two years of my life for growing marijuana two decades ago.”

Now Gilmore says he’s trading one risk -- incarceration -- for another. “If we don’t succeed in business, then we don’t succeed in business," he says. "We don’t end up in jail.”

While Gilmore says it’s “about time” he has the chance to become a law-abiding, tax paying businessman, Chris Thompson feels forced to participate. He’s a former construction worker who has been growing medical marijuana for the past four years.

“I’m 42 years old, I’ve got pins and screws all over my body, my back’s bad," says Thompson. “And not only does it make me money, but I help a whole lot of people doing it.”

But Thompson fears the state will soon crackdown on the medical side of the marijuana industry. So reluctantly, he’s decided to get licensed under Washington’s voter-approved recreational pot system.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."