In a room full of neck ties, as opposed to tie-dyes, they come in search of their pot of gold.

I never thought I would sit in the legal profession in my home state and watch us debate how to roll out a marijuana initiative, said James Evans, senior strategy consultant at Gordon Thomas Honeywell.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is firing up the bidding process for officially sanctioned marijuana consultants.

We ve seen people who have been growing in their basement for a while, people who have studied it in academic terms. It s a very broad swath of people who are interested in consulting, said the LCB s Mikhail Carpenter.

The two hour long Q & A session in Tacoma was more mind numbing than mind expanding, with 17 pages of rules for companies bidding on contracts. The state is looking for people to guide them in areas such as marijuana cultivation, retail sale, transportation, security and, of course, quality control.

It speaks to how much of a legitimate enterprise this is, said Bradley Douglass, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry. It s a whole new world.

Many of those now looking for work with the state have themselves been hassled by the feds, or busted by the cops for their association with the once reviled weed. Now, though, their rap sheets are their resumes.

I kind of feel like the war is over, and now they've invited us to this grand hotel to give them advice on how to grow pot! said longtime enthusiast Ben Carpenter.

State officials say they would prefer one company to serve as the state s consultant, with subcontractors as needed. Some from as far as Colorado attended the forum. Anyone, even those with felony drug convictions are welcome to apply.

Some in attendance worried that by giving their names as experts in the marijuana field that the FBI might be tipped off to investigate them.

I don t have an answer for that, said John Farley, WSLCB procurement coordinator. That s, the chance you ll have to take.

The legislature has allocated $100,000 for consultant contracts. With so much money on the line it s no wonder such a sober tone was struck.

If they do it well they'll be a model of excellence. If they don't, they'll be a laughing stock, said prospective consultant Terry Dean Schmidt.

The state is taking requests for proposals through February 15th.

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