TIME Washington

Growers Struggle With Glut of Legal Pot in Washington State

Too Much Pot
Ashley Green trims a marijuana flower at the Pioneer Nuggets marijuana-growing facility in Arlington, Wash., on Jan. 13, 2015 Elaine Thompson—AP

The legal pot market isn't flying as high as growers had hoped

(SEATTLE) — 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.

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 Thursday, 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.”

Officials at the state Liquor Control Board, which regulates marijuana, aren’t terribly concerned.

So far, there are about 270 licensed growers in Washington — but only about 85 open stores for them to sell to. That’s partly due to a slow, difficult licensing process; retail applicants who haven’t been ready to open; and pot business bans in many cities and counties.

The board’s legal pot project manager, Randy Simmons, says he hopes about 100 more stores will open in the next few months, providing additional outlets for the weed that’s been harvested. Washington is always likely to have a glut of marijuana after the outdoor crop comes in each fall, he suggested, as the outdoor growers typically harvest one big crop which they continue to sell throughout the year.

Weed is still pricey at the state’s pot shops — often in the $23-to-$25-per-gram range. That’s about twice the cost at medical dispensaries, but cheaper than it was a few months ago.

Simmons said he expects pot prices to keep fluctuating for the next year and a half: “It’s the volatility of a new marketplace.”

Colorado, the only other state with legal marijuana sales, has a differently structured industry. Regulators have kept a lid on production, though those limits were loosened last fall as part of a planned expansion of the market. Colorado growers still have to prove legal demand for their product, a regulatory curb aimed at preventing excess weed from spilling to other states. The result has been more demand than supply.

In Washington, many growers have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they should be able to recoup their initial investments, Simmons said. And some of the growers complaining about the low prices they’re getting now also gouged the new stores amid shortages last summer.

Those include Seitz, who sold his first crop — 22 pounds — for just under $21 per gram: nearly $230,000 before his hefty $57,000 tax bill. He’s about to harvest his second crop, but this time he expects to get just $4 per gram, when he has big bills to pay.

“We’re running out of money,” he said. “We need to make sales this month to stay operational, and we’re going to be selling at losses.”

Because of the high taxes on Washington’s legal pot, Seitz says stores can never compete with the black market while paying growers sustainable prices.

He and other growers say it’s been a mistake for the state to license so much production while the rollout of legal stores has lagged.

“If it’s a natural bump from the outdoor harvest, that’s one thing,” said Jeremy Moberg, who is sitting on 1,500 pounds of unsold marijuana at his CannaSol Farms in north-central Washington. “If it’s institutionally creating oversupply … that’s a problem.”

Some retailers have been marking up the wholesale price three-fold or more — a practice that has some growers wondering if certain stores aren’t cleaning up as they struggle.

“I got retailers beating me down to sell for black-market prices,” said Fitz Couhig, owner of Pioneer Production and Processing in Arlington.

But two of the top-selling stores in Seattle — Uncle Ike’s and Cannabis City — insist that because of their tax obligations and low demand for high-priced pot, they’re not making any money either, despite each having sales of more than $600,000 per month.

Aaron Varney, a director at Dockside Cannabis, a retail shop in the Seattle suburb of Shoreline, said stores that exploit growers now could get bitten in the long run.

“Right now, the numbers will say that we’re in the driver’s seat,” he said. “But that can change. We’re looking to establish good relationships with the growers we’re dealing with.”

TIME animals

Super Chill Dog Takes the Bus to Meet Her Owner at the Dog Park

Owners: who needs 'em?

Sometimes a dog just really wants to go to the dog park — and if that means taking the bus alone, so be it.

Eclipse, a self-sufficient 2-year-old black lab, has taken to riding public transit to the dog park alone when her owner misses the bus. “We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Eclipse’s owner Jeff Young, speaking to Seattle’s KOMO News. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.” No word on how she pays the fare with her cute little paws.

Since Lassie, Benji and Milo and Otis have helped pave the way for such precocious canine behavior, neither the dog, the owner, the bus driver, nor the other commuters seem to view the pup’s behavior as anything but adorable. “All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” commuter Tiona Rainwater, told KOMO. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?” A spokesman for Seattle’s Metro Transit said the agency loves that a dog appreciates public transit.

While Eclipse is apparently capable of riding the streets of Seattle alone, helpful Seattleites frequently stop the dog on her travels. Young told KOMO that he gets a phone call once a week or so from good Samaritans anxious to help reunite a lost dog with its owner: “I have to tell them, ‘no. She’s fine.’ She knows what she’s doing.” Lassie probably never had to put up with that.
[H/T KOMO News]

TIME Korean War

America’s ‘First Korean War Bride’ Comes Home

Recalling a wartime story that, at its heart, is less about warfare than about the simple, indomitable power of love

Occasionally, when working with the seemingly boundless treasure that is the LIFE magazine archive, one comes across series of pictures, or long-forgotten articles, that clearly and undeniably capture something telling about their own time — while casting an unexpected light on our own imperfect era.

Such is the case with Wayne Miller’s marvelous photographs — and, perhaps especially, with the sympathetic text — from an article that ran in LIFE in November 1951. Titled “A War Bride Named ‘Blue’ Comes Home,” the two-page feature captured the scene when a woman LIFE dubbed “the first Korean war bride to arrive in America” and her husband, Sgt. Johnie Morgan, landed in Seattle, where Johnie’s mom and dad were anxiously waiting to see their son and meet their new daughter-in-law.

In LIFE’s words, “As the troop transport General M. M. Patrick pulled into Seattle’s harbor, the band on the dock loudly struck up Here Comes the Bride.”

Crowds cheered excitedly, whistles tooted. Seattle and the U.S. were welcoming the first Korean war bride to arrive in America, Mrs. Johnie Morgan, home with her sergeant husband.

To soldiers in Korea Mrs. Morgan had been known as “Blue” because when she refused to tell them her name (it was Lee Yong Soon) they said, “Okay, you’ve got a blue sweater so your name’s Blue.” She first met Johnie Morgan (he was christened “Johnie,” not “John”) in Seoul in 1949 where Blue worked for the U.S. Army as communications supervisor. By the time Korea was a word on the lips of every American, Johnie and Blue were in love. But love in Korea in 1950 was precious and brief. In late June, with the North Koreans coming in on Seoul, Johnie’s outfit withdrew 200 miles south to Pusan, and Blue was left behind. Three weeks later, her feet bare and bleeding, Blue reached Pusan and Johnie Morgan. She had walked across country to Johnie. “I knew then,” says Johnie, “how much I loved the kid,” and he asked her to marry him. It took five months for marriage permission to clear the Army. Then, after their wedding last Valentine’s Day, which is Blue’s birthday, Johnie passed up innumerable chances to return to the States until Blue’s papers could be cleared.

Before the transport docked in Seattle a little boat pulled alongside and an official greeter climbed aboard to give Blue a $100 savings bond — a homecoming gift from the city of Seattle. When the couple came ashore, Johnie’s mother rushed up to kiss Blue. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she said.

Seven decades later, as Americans spend Veterans Day honoring those who served — with parades and with other, quieter remembrances — it’s also fitting that we take a moment and recall a wartime story that, at its heart, is less about warfare than about the simple, indomitable power of love.

[See more of Wayne Miller’s work at Magnumphotos.com]

MONEY online shopping

Amazon Launches Competitor to Angie’s List and Yelp

Amazon is testing a home contractor recommendation service that puts the e-commerce giant in competition with sites like Yelp, Angie's List and Craigslist.

TIME Ferguson

See the Nation React to the Ferguson Decision

Citizens from L.A. to New York City staged protests following the announcement that a grand jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson

Should Ferguson Protestors be Person of the Year? Vote below for #TIMEPOY

TIME Crime

Seattle Police May Shelve Plan to Equip Officers With Body Cameras

Seattle police may cancel a plan to give 1,000 police officers body cameras like the one shown here worn by a Las Vegas official on Nov. 12, 2014. John Locher—AP

Officials says excessive public-disclosure requests are to blame

Seattle may drop its plan to equip more than 1,000 police officers with body cameras by 2016 because of the volume of public-disclosure requests already seeking information from future recordings.

A six-month pilot program set to launch in a few weeks might be completely shelved, officials told the Seattle Times, thanks to public-disclosure requests by an anonymous citizen who was looking for daily updates that department officials say would be nearly impossible to fulfill. Officials said the requests — including all recordings from patrol-car and body cameras, as well as 9-1-1 dispatches and checks run on license plates and addresses — would be both too expensive and time-consuming for the department.

A number of cities have been experimenting with body cameras since the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August, which set off weeks of protests. The incident was not captured on video, and the facts of the shooting have been disputed. Police departments in Denver, Anaheim, Washington, D.C. and Ferguson have since announced plans to use the cameras.

[Seattle Times]

TIME shooting

2 Dead, Including Gunman, in Washington High School Shooting

Unconfirmed reports suggest multiple students were injured in the shooting

A high school student opened fire Friday morning at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington state Friday morning, killing at least one person before turning the gun on himself.

A spokesman for the Marysville Police Department told TIME that “multiple” people were injured in the incident. Four patients were taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, according to the hospital’s website. Three victims remained in critical condition Friday afternoon, the Seattle Times reported.

The Times also reported several students identified the shooter as freshman Jaylen Fryberg. Jordan Luton, a student at the school, told CNN he saw Fryberg go up to a table with students, “came up from behind . . . and fired about six bullets into the backs of them.” Luton added, “They were his friends, so it wasn’t just random.” Federal law enforcement believe the shooter used a .40-caliber handgun.

The shooting occurred shortly before 11 a.m. PT. Students were evacuated while police cleared the school room to room with guns drawn.

Fryberg was a popular student, CNN reports, who played football and was named as the high school’s freshman homecoming prince. He also belonged to the local Tulalip Native American tribe, and was an avid hunter. “He was a people person,” freshman Rachel Heichel said. “He was just a really nice kid and all-around good person.”

Luton told CNN that Fryberg got into a fight with someone a few weeks before who “said something racist to him.” Fryberg was suspended, but there’s no evidence the fight had anything to do with the shooting.

Student Austin Taylor told a local news station he was standing near the shooter when the shooting began. “He had a blank stare,” he said. “He was just staring at the victims as he shot them.”

MONEY Budgeting

Guess Which U.S. City Is the Most Expensive

141014_REA_EXPENSIVELIVING
Nikreates—Alamy

Hint: It's not NYC.

On average, American households spend the largest share of their annual expenditures on housing. The average family spends $16,887 on housing per year, equating to 33% of the average household’s annual expenditures. But how much do those expenses vary from city to city, and which places are the most expensive?

Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report (link opens PDF) detailing Americans’ average annual expenditures on housing and related items. And contrary to popular belief, New York City is not the most expensive city to live in. Two U.S. cities have overtaken it.

A breakdown of housing costs

The BLS took a deep dive into all the costs of housing, rather than simply comparing the cost of rent or average mortgage payments. Their analysis also took into account utilities (electric, water, and natural gas), household furnishings and equipment (textiles, furniture, floor coverings, appliances, and the like), housekeeping supplies, and other household expenses. What they found was that average annual expenditures on housing were far higher in both Washington, D.C., and San Francisco than in New York.

most-expensive-city-no-longer-nyc_large
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data is current as of 2012, and housing costs in the District of Columbia and San Francisco have risen since then. In D.C., the rise in housing costs is being led by the redevelopment and gentrification of the downtown area, which in turn is being triggered by the high relative number of government and government-related jobs, particularly in the defense contracting sector. Baby boomers are also moving from the suburbs into the city.

In San Francisco, housing costs have always been high, but they’re spiking because of a confluence of factors. The continued boom in technology companies in Silicon Valley — most notably Apple, Google, and Facebook — means that a growing cadre of high-paid employees want to live in the area. Add in a longtime lack of housing development in the city, and you have a rise in housing prices that has become a contentious issue in the San Francisco Bay area as longtime renters are priced out of the city. TechCrunch’s Kim-Mai Cutler provides a great, in-depth piece on San Francisco’s housing problem.

The difference in annual housing costs between the two most expensive cities and the national average is a staggering $10,000. Excluding New York City, the difference between the two most expensive cities and other major U.S. metropolitan areas is over $5,000 annually. If you’re thinking of moving, it’s smart to compare costs carefully before moving to one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.

National differences in housing cost

While the above data is just from major U.S. cities, we have other data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showing the real value of housing dollars in each state compared with the national average.

real-value-of-housing_large

You can see that generally, coastal states are more expensive than non-coastal states, as many people enjoy living near the ocean. You can also see that the Northeast on average is more expensive than the rest of the country except for California. These high costs, coupled with better weather and low to no income taxes, are why many retirees move south to Florida, Texas, etc.

If considering moving to a more expensive city, you should be sure the benefits will be worth the extra expense. For instance, while I pay a high cost of living to live in New York City, the quality of life that I get in the city makes it well worth it, in my opinion. While New York state is ranked poorly in terms of the happiest states in the U.S., New York City is ranked in the top quartile by happiness among U.S. cities, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The most important thing is to live in a place where you are happy. While the main determinants of happiness are the same for everyone, the specifics vary. Be sure that an increased cost of living comes with an increased quality of life.

TIME politics

How Indigenous Peoples Day Came to Be

Berkeley, Calif., adopted the holiday 22 years before Seattle and Minneapolis did in 2014

Updated 10:47 a.m. EST

Earlier this month, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an alternative to Columbus Day, following in the footsteps of Minneapolis, which made the same decision in April of this year. But both cities were late to the game compared to Berkeley, Calif., which in 1992 became the first city in the country to formally recognize a new holiday challenging the idea that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America with his 1492 voyage.

Back in 1992, then-Mayor of Berkeley Loni Hancock told TIME Magazine that Columbus Day celebrations have been “Eurocentric and [have] ignored the brutal realities of the colonization of indigenous peoples.”

Now a California State Senator, Hancock says she’s pleased so many other cities are catching on to Indigenous Peoples Day. (Different cities have made different choices about where to put the apostrophe after peoples, or whether to have one at all, but the idea is the same.) “Berkeley was just a little bit in front,” she says, noting that Berkeley was also the first city to ban Styrofoam carry-out containers and install curb cuts to assist the disabled. “As often happens, things happen in Berkeley first and then other places pick them up.”

Talk of an alternative to Columbus Day dates back to the 1970s, but the idea came to Berkeley after the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, in 1990. That led to another conference among Northern Californian Native American groups, Hancock says; some attendees, along with other locals interested in Native American history, brought their concerns to the Berkeley City Council. The council appointed a task force to investigate the ideas and Columbus’ historical legacy, and in 1992 they unanimously approved the task force’s recommendation for an Indigenous Peoples Day. (Other alternatives exist in the U.S., such as Native American Day—South Dakota has recognized that holiday since 1990.)

“[Columbus] was one of the first Europeans to get to the American continent, but there was a lot of history that came after that in terms of the wiping out of native people,” Hancock says. “It just didn’t seem appropriate. It seemed like a reemphasizing of history and recognizing that to be very ethnocentric really diminishes us all.”

In addition to being an official holiday, Indigenous Peoples Day in Berkeley is celebrated with an Indian market and pow-wow that attracts Native Americans from all over the state as well as the country. “Any holiday like that says, ‘This is an important factor in our history,’ whether it’s Martin Luther King’s birthday or President’s Day,” Hancock says. “I think that it impacts the way the young people of Berkeley look at the world.”

While cities like Seattle now observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day in addition to Columbus Day, the city of Berkeley replaced Columbus Day altogether. Hancock says there was vocal opposition to change but notes that most of it came from outside of the Berkeley community. As was also the case in Seattle, some members of the Italian-American community argued that Columbus Day was an important celebration of Italian pride and heritage, and that changing the celebration was disrespectful.

“We just had to keep reiterating that that was not the purpose — the purpose was to really affirm the incredible legacy of the indigenous people who were in the North American continent long before Columbus,” Hancock says. “But I’d also suggest that most of the Italian-Americans really came to this country looking for safety and economic opportunity, and I’m sure we could find some of the Italian-Americans who stood up for that and helped make that happen. Maybe we should look into that. The Berkeley City Council, as you know, will consider many things!”

Read next: Bummed About Having to Work on Columbus Day? Read This

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