Celebratory Mood As Washington Issues First Pot License

Mar 5, 2014

Washington’s voter-approved effort to legalize recreational marijuana reached a major milestone.

On Wednesday, Spokane native Sean Green became the first business owner to receive a license to legally grow recreational pot.

Green is a former real-estate appraiser. But when the housing market slowed down he saw the medical marijuana business as a new opportunity.

He already owns and operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle and Spokane. But with his new license to produce recreational pot, Green says has as a lot of work to do. First he needs to construct a 21,000-square-foot production facility in Spokane.

And Green has big plans. He expects that one day marijuana will be legal throughout the U.S. and he wants to be a part of that. He plans to open 78 retail outlets and 57 manufacturing plants across the nation.

Why these numbers? The founder of a local jerky company is his model.

“Oberto Beef Jerky was a close personal friend with my great aunt," Green explains. "He attended our family reunion and I spent quite a bit of time with him as a boy, and that’s how many retail stores he had. And he had 57 manufacture plants, and a hydroplane.”

Green says this license will create jobs in Spokane. He estimates that he will need anywhere from 30 to 50 staff members caring for and harvesting the marijuana crops.

In 2012 Washington voters approved the ballot measure that created a legal recreational marijuana marketplace. In the coming months the state will license hundreds of growers, processors and retailers.

A bit of the shine came off the celebration after the Seattle Times reported that Green withheld wages from employees at his medical marijuana dispensary in Shoreline. In addition a former employee told the Seattle Times he "pursued relationships" with other workers.

Green declined to comment on the issue with the Times.