The year 2015 was big for the marijuana industry. There has been more legalization and more weed-related medical advances, and people are taking cannabis even further than before, incorporating it into everything from high-class dining experiences to art classes.
According to local shop owners, 2016 is going to be even bigger.
Eric Skaar, general manager of Sativa Sisters, has his fingers crossed for smoking lounges or the ability to consume marijuana in private businesses.
"It's really doubtful," he admits. "But I'd like to see it."
SpoCannabis Owner Darren McCrea is pushing for a separation between the medical and recreational sides of the industry and the decriminalization of the drug. He's also hoping to see more sensible pricing from local shops, some of which he says charge upward of $17 a gram.
Chris Rice, budtender at Royal's Cannabis, says the sky's the limit for the marijuana industry in 2016.
"There's always going to be growth in this industry, just because it's so new," he says.
Unlike McCrea, Rice is excited about combining the recreational and medical markets, because it will give recreational shops the opportunity to sell plants and seeds to patients looking to grow their own plants.
He notes that patients still will need a medical card to buy those products.
Along with an optimism regarding the industry's overall growth, Cinder Manager Justin Hutcherson is looking forward to further development of marijuana-related laws and progress toward a more accurate system for monitoring impaired drivers.
TreeHouse Club Manager Shaun Durkin hopes the community will get to see the benefits of the state's legalization and taxation of marijuana in the form of tax money trickling back into the county.
Devon Swanson, budtender at Satori, is proud of Washington's marijuana industry for setting the bar for other states on their paths to legalization.
Swanson, who sees 2016 as the Year of the Educated Customer, is looking forward to learning even more about the industry himself.
"There's all these amazing values to cannabis that haven't even had the proper time to be tapped into yet," he says, "so for us to be finally scratching the surface and finally having the scientists that want to pursue cannabis, it's an amazing thing."♦