|Leo Gontmakher, a marijuana processor with Northwest Cannabis Solutions in Sultan, Wash., smells a bag of marijuana Saturday, Nov. 17, 2014, during the auction at Fireweed Farms in Prosser, Wash. Fireweed Farms auctioned off 300 pounds of marijuana in the first auction of its kind in the state. AP
Washington state’s first marijuana auction brought in about $600,000.
Fireweed Farms of Prosser sold about 300 pounds of pot to state-licensed processors and retailers Saturday, the Tri-City Herald reported (http://is.gd/JsJp6T ). Bidding took place under a black tent fronted by tall heaters, and the event was monitored by at least two representatives of the Washington Liquor Control Board. Bidders could smell plastic bags of buds before offering a bid.
The marijuana was planted in May and harvested between late September and mid-October. Fireweed Farms owner Randy Williams had sold some of his marijuana to recreational processors earlier this year, but the auction represented the bulk of his harvest.
He said he held the auction to “get rid of it all quick” so he could spend time with his grandson instead of packaging marijuana. The harvested and dried marijuana was priced by the gram and auctioned by the strain in lots ranging from about half a pound to five pounds.
Williams said he planned to donate proceeds from three lots, totalling $14,000, to local schools.
Lt. Jeremy Wissing, an officer with the state Liquor Control Board who monitored a portion of Saturday’s auction, said it appeared to be well run.
“I’m seeing a well-organized event,” Wissing said outside the Fireweed Farms grow area. “It isn’t a circus. I’m not seeing open consumption of marijuana.”
Williams initially hoped to make $1 million through the marijuana fire sale, but said during the auction that he’d be happy with $600,000 or $700,000.
The purchased marijuana was to remain under video-monitored quarantine at Fireweed Farms overnight Saturday, Wissing said. Buyers could either retrieve their marijuana Sunday or arrange for it to be delivered to their business by Williams.
Although Saturday’s auction was the state’s first, Wissing doesn’t expect it to be the last.
“It’s just a different way of moving his product,” Wissing said.
Interest in the marijuana auction was so intense that Williams commissioned the use of a parking lot across the street from his property to accommodate the visitors.
Buyers were provided with a detailed list of strains and lot sizes that provided a complete potency profile, labeling requirements and the date the batch was tested by Confidence Analytics, a state-certified laboratory. The auction attracted about three dozen potential buyers from across the state.
Nazareth Victoria, a 50-year-old licensed marijuana processor from Seattle, left empty-handed. He came because he was interested in seeing what was available, but ultimately wasn’t sure about the quality, he said.
“I was just interested in the whole process,” Victoria said. “To me, smoking the product is the ultimate test to tell you the quality.”
Sampling the product was strictly forbidden Saturday.
“This is a controlled business environment,” Wissing said.