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Washington became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012. But there are a lot of challenges ahead: the state must set up a licensing system for marijuana growers and sellers, the federal government may mount a challenge, the need to set a new limit on amount of marijuana in the bloodstream for safe driving. And medical marijuana is still in the picture.Over the next several months we will be exploring the issue and tracking the impact of I-502.

Let The Carnival Commence: First Pot Shops Open Tuesday

James Lathrop owns Cannabis City in Sodo. He expects to be among the first in Washington state to open a licensed recreational marijuana shop.

This is Washington state’s final weekend without recreational pot stores. On Monday, the Evergreen State joins Colorado in issuing business licenses to qualifying retailers. It's expected about 20 licenses will be issued including one to a shop in Sodo called Cannabis City.The owner of that store says it will open at "high noon" on Tuesday with a ceremonial cutting of police tape. Then the doors will open. James Lathrop says he has about five pounds worth of marijuana for the first day; enough for 2,200 people to buy two grams apiece.

Those two-gram packages are expected to sell for $40. The question is how soon Lathrop can establish a steady supply. Washington only licensed commercial growers a few months ago.

Seattle-based Confidence Analytics says it has tested 50 samples of marijuana destined for recreational marijuana shops. A spokesman said he is still traveling eastern Washington looking for growers with ready harvests. Lathrop said there may be shortages until the end of July.

Neighbors are expecting a carnival of people with the munchies. The Subway sandwich shop two doors away from Lathrop's Cannabis City says it is adding on extra staff for Tuesday's store opening and may hire one new staff member. 

But a sign on the door of Cannabis City warns marijuana is not to be consumed in public. Lathrop also says customers can expect their ID to be checked at the door. Only people over the age of 21 will be allowed to purchase recreational pot — even minors accompanied by parents are to be turned away.