Since the legalization of recreational marijuana, Washington residents have flooded licensed retail stores which have cropped up along the I-5 corridor. The growth, distribution, and sale of marijuana and cannabis-infused products has the potential to become a massive industry leading to the creation of jobs and the generation of a huge tax revenue stream for the state. As the lawful details of growth and production are still being sorted out, a farmer in Washington chose to auction-off his cannabis crop, generating a whopping $600,000 in a single afternoon.
300 pounds of state-licensed marijuana was sold by Fireweed Farms, located in Prosser, Washington, in November of 2014. Representatives of the Washington Liquor Control Board were present at the auction in order to monitor the legal sale of the harvest, which was planted the previous May. Randy Williams, the owner of Fireweed Farms, stated that he had sold a smaller portion of his crop earlier that year to recreational processors.
Wanting to sell the majority of his harvest more quickly, Williams decided to hold a “fire sale” where the dried marijuana was sold in batches of each strain. The lots ranged from half a pound to a five pound cache. While he expected upwards of a million dollars for his entire crop, selling it quickly, rather than taking the time to package and process it himself, saved Williams considerable time and money. With the quick sale, he is able to turn his attention on to the potential of his next crop.
Aaron Nelson, manager of 2020 Solutions, a marijuana retailer located in Bellingham, Washington, was the first purchaser of one of the auctioned lots. “It’s never been done before in the United States,” he said. “Just the opportunity alone was exciting.”
The live auction was the first of its kind. Many long-time proponents of legal cannabis attended the landmark event as a show of industry support. Prior to the auction, buyers were given a list of available strains and lot sizes, which included details about potency and state labeling requirements. Confidence Analytics, a state-certified and accredited laboratory, was responsible for testing the strains, and providing the buyers with quality assurance testing and potency profiling.
On its website, Fireweed Farms lists some of its auctioned strains which are familiar to many users. They include: “Ace of Spades,” “Deep Purple,” “Gremlin,” “Snow White,” “T-N-T,” and “University of Washington,” which pays homage to the public university located in Seattle. To attend and purchase any of the auctioned croup, attendees were required to register with proof of their state-sanctioned retailer or processing license.
Barry Steib, the Director of Sales of NorthWest Organics, a licensed producer of recreational cannabis, was one of the more than 100 people in attendance. “I felt so lucky to even be at the event. History was made and it was awesome to just be apart of that,” he said. “We purchased some marijuana at great prices and look forward to be able to bring our top shelf products to store shelves across the state.”
As the legal marijuana industry is being built, and retail business begins to grow, the demand and innovative selling techniques of producers is almost certain to blossom. While the auction itself was a steal for buyers, the publicity and exposure afforded to Fireweed via the auction, is priceless. The future of the Washington cannabis marketplace seems bright, and investors around the nation have their eyes set on the huge potential of the marijuana industry.