Washington's legal marijuana market opened last summer to a dearth of weed. Some stores periodically closed because they didn't have pot to sell. Prices were through the roof. Six months later, the equation has flipped, bringing serious growing pains to the new industry after a big harvest of sun-grown marijuana from eastern Washington last fall flooded the market. Prices are starting to come down in the state's licensed pot shops, but due to the glut, growers are—surprisingly—struggling to sell their marijuana. Some are already worried about going belly-up, finding it tougher than expected to make a living in legal weed. "It's an economic nightmare," says Andrew Seitz, general manager at Dutch Brothers Farms in Seattle.
State data show that licensed growers had harvested 31,000 pounds of bud as of yesterday, but Washington's relatively few legal pot shops have sold less than one-fifth of that. Many of the state's marijuana users have stuck with the untaxed or much-lesser-taxed pot they get from black market dealers or unregulated medical dispensaries—limiting how quickly product moves off the shelves of legal stores. "Every grower I know has got surplus inventory and they're concerned about it," said Scott Masengill, who has sold half of the 280 pounds he harvested from his pot farm in central Washington. "I don't know anybody getting rich." But right now there are only about 85 open stores for the 270 licensed growers in Washington to sell to; officials hope about 100 more stores will open in the next few months. Click for more. (Read more Washington state stories.)