The passage of Initiative 502 has opened doors to a new industry centered on legal marijuana use. Saturday the Washington Cannabis Institute hosted an event hosted an event to teach would-be growers and sellers what they need to know about the pot business.
More than 60 people crowded in a small conference room to find out how it all works and organizers say they had to turn people away. The event featured speakers who talked about growing it, selling it and following the rules.
“There's a lot of risk in this industry,” George Boyadjian explained.
Boyadjian runs several medical marijuana operations and says the two-day seminar is often a reality check for those who attend.
“Our job is not scare people away from the business, our job is to educate them about how to get into the business legally and what they could be facing if things go wrong,” he said.
Some like Bryan Hood say they're hesitant to consider running an operation under I-502.
“From what I see I don't think it's going to work, I think the farmers are going to get screwed,” he explained.
Hood says he’s keeping his focus on running a medical marijuana business. Others at the event said they’d hopeful that I-502 will give them new opportunities, but they’re waiting to find out how it will work.
“There's still a lot of gray areas on the producers and growers side that they have to look into; otherwise people are going to be at risk to the point that they're not going to do this,” Kevin O’Neill said.
Although the federal government has not said if it plans to try and block I-502 from going forward those familiar with the industry say it's not a good idea to wait.
Attorney David Kerr said potential business owners need to come up with a business plan, financing and other essentials.
“Now is the time they're going to have to start putting this together because if they don't start putting this together they'll be behind the curve.”
Attorney general Eric Holder has promised to announce a decision soon. In the meantime, the state is moving forward and has hired a consultant to advise it on how to proceed.