Five years of legal marijuana in WA: how a new ban may affect sh - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Five years of legal marijuana in WA: how a new ban may affect shops

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UNION GAP, WA - Pot shop owners recognize it's been five years since the state of Washington legalized recreational marijuana.

Reporter Briseida Holguin met up with one of these owners, who tells us about the journey it's been and how a new ban within Yakima County may force some of these shops to close their doors.

Washington passed Initiative 502 on December 6th, 2012, which made it legal to sell recreational marijuana...but it took longer than a year to let shops open and begin selling.

Adams Markus is one of the eight pot shop owners within the state of Washington who opened his doors on July 8th, 2014; the first day businesses were allowed to sell.

"Right after the vote is when we started getting set up to do all of this, and things along these lines we said it was going to be interesting," said Markus, owner of Station 420.

And it sure was.

"The first day that we opened we were able to find one farm, and so finding product was tough, and finding better product was even tougher," Markus explained. "What we have now isn't anything close to what I had envisioned. I had really thought that when we started this process that I was going to set up a little medical shop in the corner of some building."

Markus says as business grew, so did the number of marijuana farms, causing the value of marijuana to lower.

"I think we were retailing a gram of marijuana at about $40...now its $5," he said.

With business revenue increasing, so did his taxes...and he says that today, knowing how to balance out and pay that large amount is the challenge.

"In this store alone we had a tax obligation of 980,000 dollars last year."

He says the IRS takes above 40 percent of what the store makes.

"So 4 cents out of every 10 cents goes to the IRS," said Markus.

Being the owner of two stores in Union Gap, Markus will not be impacted by a new ban Yakima County just passed - the ban will focus on removing business in unincorporated areas which have 28 licensed businesses in danger of shutting down. Markus explains how this will have both the county and the public losing.

"Now the county is going to go through and shut down all these farms, so the county is going to be losing all that tax revenue," he says. "But even worse than that; all those people that are working at those farms are going to lose their jobs."

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