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Thursday, July 31, 2014, 5:09 p.m.
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Washington issues first marijuana shop licenses

By The Associated Press

This article was published July 7, 2014 at 6:54 a.m.

in-this-photo-taken-tuesday-july-1-2014-a-worker-weighs-out-one-gram-packets-of-a-variety-of-recreational-marijuana-named-space-needle-during-packaging-operations-at-sea-of-green-farms-in-seattle-the-grower-the-first-business-licensed-to-grow-recreational-marijuana-in-washington-state-worked-all-weekend-to-have-supplies-ready-for-stores-that-were-expected-to-be-granted-sale-licenses-on-monday-july-7-the-day-before-legal-recreational-pot-sales-begin-on-july-8

In this photo taken Tuesday, July 1, 2014, a worker weighs out one-gram packets of a variety of recreational marijuana named "Space Needle," during packaging operations at Sea of Green Farms in Seattle. The grower, the first business licensed to grow recreational marijuana in Washington state, worked all weekend to have supplies ready for stores that were expected to be granted sale licenses on Monday, July 7, the day before legal recreational pot sales begin on July 8.

SEATTLE — Washington state issued its first retail marijuana licenses Monday with a middle-of-the-night email alerting bleary-eyed pot-shop proprietors that they'll finally be able to open for business.

"We're pretty stoked," said John Evich, an investor in Bellingham's Top Shelf Cannabis, in a 2:30 a.m. Pacific time interview with The Associated Press. "We haven't had any sleep in a long time, but we're excited for the next step."

Randy Simmons, the state Liquor Control Board's project manager for legal marijuana, said Sunday night that the first two dozen stores were being notified so early to give them an extra few hours to get cannabis on their shelves before they are allowed to open their doors at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The issuance of the retail licenses marked a major step that's been 20 months in the making. Washington and Colorado stunned much of the world by voting in November 2012 to legalize marijuana for adults over 21, and to create state-licensed systems for growing, selling and taxing the pot.

Sales began in Colorado on Jan. 1.

It remained unclear how many of the pot-shops being licensed in Washington planned to open on Tuesday. Officials eventually expect to have more than 300 recreational pot shops across the state.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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