The state’s first pot auction unfolded Saturday afternoon behind the screened fences of a denuded marijuana farm.
About 300 pounds of dried flower with names like Girl Scout Cookies, One Arm Bandit and Purple Kush sold for an estimated $600,000 to recreational retailers and processers for just dollars a gram.
The auction at Fireweed Farms in Prosser was limited to licensed processors and retailers and media members. It was monitored by at least two state Liquor Control Board officers.
Bidding took place under a black tent fronted by tall heaters and an auction table where bidders could smell plastic bags of buds before offering a bid. Fireweed Farms owner Randy Williams estimated the marijuana sold averaged about $3 a gram, although he said that was estimate.
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The auction was run orderly and professionally, said Lt. Jeremy Wissing, an officer with the state Liquor Control Board who monitored a portion of Saturday’s auction.
“I’m seeing a well-organized event,” Wissing said outside the Fireweed Farms grow area. He added, “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 marijuana sold Saturday was planted May 9 and harvested between late September and mid-October. Although Williams had sold some of his marijuana to recreational processors earlier this year, the lot auctioned Saturday represented the bulk of his harvest.
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 203 grams to 2,264 grams.
The purchased marijuana was to remain under video-monitored quarantine at Fireweed Farms over Saturday night, Wissing said. Buyers could either retrieve their marijuana Sunday or arrange for it to be delivered to their business by Williams, Wissing said. 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, adding that he envisioned other growers doing the same.
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.
Profits from at least three lots sold were donated to Prosser schools. Williams said after the auction that the sale of 11 pounds of pot raised about $14,000 for a donation he plans to make to Prosser gradeschools.
The auction did not mark an exit from the marijuana industry for Williams, who said he plans to continue growing next year.
“I’ll get going again in March,” Williams said.
Along with a swarm of statewide media, Williams estimated the auction attracted about 35 producers and retailers. Nazareth Victoria, a 50-year-old licensed marijuana processor from Seattle, was among them.
“I was just interested in the whole process,” Victoria said. “I was interested to see if there was any product I’d be interested in buying.”
There wasn’t. Victoria left empty handed, saying he was unsure of the quality of the fragrant marijuana being sold.
“Numerically speaking, you do have a cannabinoid profile,” Victoria said. He continued, “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 of the auction.