First pot business license issued in Washington

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 6, 2014 at 10:34 am •  Published: March 6, 2014
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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — His company's name celebrates being too stoned to get off the couch, and he hopes to bring an ultra-potent "super joint" to market.

Meet Sean Green, chief executive of Kouchlock Productions and the proud owner of Washington state's first legal-marijuana business license.

The state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday issued Green the license at its meeting in Olympia on Wednesday, launching a new phase in the state's ambitious effort to regulate a market that has been illegal for more than 75 years.

Green, who has operated medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane and the Seattle suburb of Shoreline, proclaimed the document "beautiful." The license will allow him to grow 21,000 square feet of cannabis at his Spokane facility — the first pot that will be grown for sale under the highly taxed system approved by voters in 2012. The possession of marijuana became legal for adults over 21 soon after the vote, but it's still illegal to grow or sell it for recreational use until pot shops open in the state later this year.

Green plans to start by raising marijuana starter plants to sell to other growers, and later expand to growing buds for retail pot shops.

"Cannabis prohibition is over," Green declared to applause from a room packed with his supporters. "I'm coming home with jobs, Spokane."

Sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado, the only other state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. But Colorado already had a regulated medical marijuana system and simply began by allowing medical dispensaries to sell recreational pot. Washington had no regulated medical system.

The Liquor Control Board said Green got the first license because he was the first applicant to complete the process.

The board also received more than 2,200 retail applications, and is expected to hold lotteries in at least some areas before allowing 334 pot shops statewide. Washington's first pot stores are expected to open in June or July.

Seattle attorney Alison Holcomb, who led the state's legalization campaign, called it exciting.

"It's easy to talk about what marijuana legalization might look like," she said. "It's a much different thing to see it roll out."

The board's three members credited the hard work he did to meet the requirements to obtain a license, including passing criminal and financial background checks, developing a board-approved business plan and finding a location that wasn't too close to schools or daycares.

"We're proud of you," board chairwoman Sharon Foster said. "We now know there are folks out there who follow the rules and are willing to be participants of this brave new venture in Washington state."

Not everyone was so enthused. Derek Franklin, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, said he found it troubling that Green was getting the first license, with the message sent by the "Kouchlock" name as well as the idea of the "super joint," which Green described as a marijuana cigarette that includes potent cannabis oil as well as flowers.

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