NPR Story
3:07 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Celebration And Angst As Marijuana License Application Window Opens

Would-be growers, processors and retailers applied online and in-person Monday as the 30-day window for marijuana business licenses applications opened in Washington.

At the Department of Revenue business licensing office, it was more like a trickle, rather than a torrent, of in-person applicants on this historic day.

“This is absolutely amazing,” says Jeff Gilmore, who was among the first to apply for a license to grow legal pot after a career doing it illegally.

“The state of Washington took two years of my life for growing marijuana two decades ago.”

Now Gilmore says he’s trading one risk -- incarceration -- for another. “If we don’t succeed in business, then we don’t succeed in business," he says. "We don’t end up in jail.”

While Gilmore says it’s “about time” he has the chance to become a law-abiding, tax paying businessman, Chris Thompson feels forced to participate. He’s a former construction worker who has been growing medical marijuana for the past four years.

“I’m 42 years old, I’ve got pins and screws all over my body, my back’s bad," says Thompson. “And not only does it make me money, but I help a whole lot of people doing it.”

But Thompson fears the state will soon crackdown on the medical side of the marijuana industry. So reluctantly, he’s decided to get licensed under Washington’s voter-approved recreational pot system.

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