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Demand, price for B.C. bud dropping in wake of U.S. legalization

Daniel Curylo laughs while posing with some of the marijuana plants that he uses for marketing purposes in Seattle on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. His goal? A cannabis business park northwest of Olympia that would feature his growing operation, Cascade Crops, as well as retail stores run by his mother, father and aunt.

Elaine Thompson/AP

The price of B.C. bud has dropped since two U.S. states voted in favour of marijuana legalization, according to pot advocates, who say British Columbia will continue to feel the pinch once Washington State retailers are formally up and running.

Washington's business licensing service this week started accepting applications from those hoping to take advantage of the "Green Rush." The department has received hundreds of applications from potential marijuana producers, processors and retailers.

North of the border, pot advocates say the price for consumers and income for producers have already gone down.

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"Prices are going down in British Columbia," said Dana Larsen, who opened a Vancouver dispensary for medical marijuana and is currently pushing for a referendum to decriminalize pot in this province.

Mr. Larsen said in an interview that prices at the dispensary have dropped about 20 per cent. He said the pricing used to be about $10 a gram, but is now down to about $7 a gram. He said a similar drop has occurred across B.C.

Mr. Larsen, who said the emergence of medical marijuana in the U.S. has also hurt B.C. sales, chalked up the latest dip in B.C. to supply and demand.

"They've got their own supply in Washington, so there's less demand for B.C. bud. And [for sellers] here, there's less demand for our product in the States and so prices drop locally as people try to move their product. And I expect they're going to stay in the range that they are, if not continue to go down," he said.

Jodie Emery, a political activist and owner of the Cannabis Culture store and magazine, said the market demand for B.C. bud in Washington State has diminished greatly.

"We've seen that the production of marijuana is increasing in the United States, so the demand for B.C. bud has been dropping," she said in an interview.

Ms. Emery said B.C. bud used to sell for about $2,000 a pound. She said she has heard it's now down to about $1,000 a pound. Like Mr. Larsen, she also pointed to the emergence of medical marijuana as playing a role.

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"We might be getting Washington bud smuggled up into B.C. if things continue going this way," she said with a laugh.

Daniel Curylo, who grew up in the Fraser Valley community of Sardis but now resides in the Washington State town of Shelton, filed his application with the licensing bureau Monday. Mr. Curylo, principal of Cascade Crops, is hoping to receive producer and processor licences and wants to open a "cannabusiness" complex that would include several types of marijuana businesses.

Mr. Curylo, in an interview, said there will never be another opportunity like this in his lifetime to take advantage of a burgeoning market.

He said B.C. used to be a world leader in cannabis technology but has fallen by the wayside because the government hasn't embraced the industry. One of his goals, he said, is to put up billboards near the border crossing to promote his operation.

"As just a neener-neener to all my friends up north, my plan, my dream, is to get one of those," he said, adding the billboard will invite B.C. to come down and participate.

Voters in Washington State and Colorado opted to legalize marijuana last year. The Washington State Liquor Control Board has until Dec. 1 to write the rules or implementation details of the new system.

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Marijuana business-licence applications will be accepted until Dec. 19. Because the number of retailer licences is limited, a lottery could be held if too many apply.

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