In early May the Washington State Liquor Control Board announced the winners of the retail pot lottery winners. Tumwater resident David Moore of MooreHempCo was one of the lucky few. “We’re excited about it. Our main goal is to get our doors open and be one of the county’s premier outlets.”
Now that retailers have been selected from the lists of qualified applicants, the Liquor Control Board has begun examining business plans and background checks in an effort to weed out those with possible connection with organized crime. Qualified applicants who were not selected are still waiting to see if they might yet be lucky. But David Moore is confident his selection will stand. “We’re ready for the scrutiny.” He describes his background as “squeaky clean” and his finances and business plan in order. Moore and Ruth, his wife, are putting up their life savings for this opportunity to be a part this historic movement for change in U.S. drug policy. When asked when he thought he would finally receive the license, he replied, “When they ask us for a $1000. We’ll write a check; they’ll hand us the license.”
WIP: With all the paperwork and money required just to qualify to enter the lottery, what motivated you to even try?
Moore: I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t desire to be in the monkey cage again. [Moore had previously owned a store on the Westside that offered industrial hemp products.] I was at that store all the time. When I told my wife that friends were saying that I should go for [setting up a recreational marijuana retail store], she said, “Well, why don’t we?” And I had no answer for her.
WIP: What do you think was her motivation?
Moore: It’s simple, she sees this as my passion.
The Moores are planning a trip to Colorado to see close up how things are going for recreational marijuana retail stores there that have been open since the first of the year.
“I’ve been in contact with one of the Colorado retailer and we began trading information back in January. I called them the other day to let them know we have a number one spot. They said for us to give them a week’s notice and they’d give us a tour and take care of us.”
Colorado has a similar set up with a few exceptions. Non-Colorado residents may only buy up to a quarter gram whereas in WA non-residents will be able to one gram same as WA residents. Colorado residents will also be able to grow up to six plants in their homes as long as they are enclosed and locked up with no more than three plants in bloom at any time. The sole purpose of this last exception is to undercut the underground economy sale of marijuana.
While retailers in Washington State will be able to open shop in July, Moore says he will probably not open his business until mid-August. He claims to be concerned that state producers and processors might not have enough supplies of marijuana products to meet customer demand and he would rather delay opening than disappoint his customers.
WIP: Do you think the State is allowing enough acreage to grow marijuana crops?
Moore: I believe by the time they have it all set, they will. Right now I think they have 40 licensed growers and they will need three months or so. Some of them have been running for a while, but it will be touch and go.
Yet Moore already has a team in place. Two, Vince Ryland and Richard Landgraf, he couldn’t do without. “They were so key to having my little (hemp) store open.” And Moore is about to sign the lease for his store. In the next couple of months he will have a lot to do in bringing his business up to speed with what is required by the Liquor Control Board—cameras, signage, security safeguards, etc.
According to the Washington State Liquor Control Board website, Moore will not be allowed to put up a “fancy sign” outside his retail store. It brings to mind the generic food stuffs of the 1980’s—white background with plain black lettering. The state does allow a non-fancy sign no larger than 1,600 square inches. This may sound rather large but actually it’s just a fancy way of saying a square meter (approximately 40 inches by 40 inches). Moore assured me that though the outside of his business will be generic plain, the inside will not. He has already contacted Vince Ryland to spruce up the inside portion.
As a retailer, Moore will only be able to “sell marijuana, marijuana-infused products, and marijuana paraphernalia.” He is hoping paraphernalia will also include industrial hemp products that he stills has from his former Westside hemp store. It’s one of many questions he plans to ask during his coming interview with the state.
WIP: Have you thought about your out-of-state customers? They can’t take it out of state and they can’t smoke it in public. What are they going to do?
Moore: They’ll have to get a motel room, I don’t know whether they’ll have to get a smoking room.
WIP: And they can’t smoke on your premises.
Moore: No, not at all. We’ll have a camera in the parking lot, too.
WIP: I’m curious. I wonder if people going to set up B & Bs or…
Moore: They just may. You’d have another little industry. When we’re in Colorado we’re going to see how that works.
A special concern I have heard from people in the Olympia area is whether recreational retailers wil be providing organic marijuana. A couple of years ago there was a study of medical marijuana patients. Sixty percent of patients claimed that, more so than price or location, the most important aspect in selecting a marijuana pharmacy was whether or not they carried organics.
WIP: Do you know if you will be able to sell organic weed?
Moore: I imagine so. It will probably be a little more expensive and certified. We’re hoping the common place marijuana would be organic eventually.
Moore was also asked what he thought the legal/social atmosphere regarding marijuana in Washington state look like after ten years.
Moore: Marijuana will be common place. We’re not the minority anymore. I don’t believe they are ready to admit that because they think they are the ones who are right. And that’s okay. It’s not about being right; it’s about making things work and work together.
WIP: Do you think it’s going to take people a little while to get used to being able to smoke legally? More people are going to smoke now simply because it’s legal. Like myself, it’s been decades. How much can you consume and still function? How long must one wait before one can drive?
Moore: Oh, people have been driving high all this time and people are now worried about the danger of driving high? They are not uncontrollable drunks. They’ve probably been driving right next to you all along. They’re the folks you’ve been honking at because they’re in your way. [Moore is laughing.]
Don’t worry. Moore plans to put up a sign telling people to take their stash straight home. More important for him is the fact that people will no longer have to be criminals. “I’m very excited about that.”
David Moore also asked that in addition to Vince Ryland and Richard Landgraf, that I be sure to mention his wife, Ruth, “who is the driving force, everyone associated with Shaydo Command Post, and the Fun Specialist. I’m dragging all my friends with me. They’re our valuable team members.”
Sylvia Smith is a long-time member of Works In Progress and an alumna of The Evergreen State College.