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In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Not Much Pot, But So What? Washington Kicks Off Marijuana Sales

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In another significant milestone in Washington’s experiment with legal, recreational marijuana, the first 24 pot retailers in Washington now have their licenses in hand.

The businesses were notified electronically early Monday morning, but not all of them will open for business Tuesday. And stores that do open have warned they may run out of product because of a limited supply.

You do have the cart before the horse -- or the stores before the pot in some cases -- but the state’s view is that they want to hand this off to the private sector. They didn’t want to stand in the way any longer and they’re ready to issue licenses, so their view is ‘get the market going.’

Stores that open Tuesday are bracing for long lines and high demand. But Washington’s Liquor Board expects the supply and demand issue to work itself out over the summer.

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."