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Potential retail marijuana industry relieved by lack of federal intervention

SPOKANE, Wash. - Potential retail marijuana industry relieved by lack of federal intervention

At The Herbal Connection medical marijuana dispensary in the Garland district, marijuana comes in different forms and strains. Some will make you hungry or tired if ingested, others are supposed to give you relief. But the real buzz in the shop, is all about the relief they feel from the federal government's decision last Thursday. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to Governor Jay Inslee, saying he won't sue Washington over Initiative 502 that legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults.

"That is a huge weight. That's an enormous weight off of anybody in this industry's shoulders," said the owner of The Herbal Connection Paul Lugo.

Lugo owns the dispensary, and is hoping to open a retail marijuana store as well. He says the federal decision will improve the accessibility pot stores have to banks. The stores were likely going to operate as cash-only before the decision, because banks are federally insured. Since marijuana possession is still against federal law, many banks wouldn't agree to holding drug money.

Now they won't be prosecuted for it, and some may open their doors to people like Paul Lugo.

"You're less likely to get robbed. You're less likely to have (money) in the store because people can use debit and credit cards like any other normal business. They don't restrict you from buying alcohol with a credit card."

Lugo hopes to open a mom-and-pop pot shop of sorts, if he obtains a license. He believes the pot law, and the feds decision to stay out of it, can help Washington thrive.

"It's the small guys, especially in this industry as it opens up in Washington and Colorado, that I think are truly going to bring back the economy of our city and states," Lugo said.

The attorney general's office said it will continue to work to keep marijuana out of minors hands, and to ensure it will not cross state lines.