After the smoke cleared, this year was all about ganja, as the state and municipalities figured out how to implement Initiative 502, which legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana in a country where even possession of small quantities is a crime. Many Washingtonians stepped—or were pushed—into the breach of conjuring the new, potentially billion-dollar legal industry. At the center of the effort is Randy Simmons, who leads the rules and regulations research teams at the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the agency responsible for regulating legal pot. His daunting to-do list includes finding the perfect balance of supply and pricing that avoids fueling a black market and crafting a policy that keeps the feds out of state business. Alison Holcomb, I-502 campaign manager and primary author of the law, did not rest on last year’s victory. She’s continued to agitate for rules that fight against big-company domination of the new industry and marketing restrictions to keep sellers from targeting young people. One high-profile pot proponent who finds himself in an awkward position on the issue is Vivian McPeak, cofounder and executive director of the 22-year-old Hempfest. He came under fire for Hempfest’s official “neutral” stance on I-502 last year, which left some questioning the future role of one of this country’s largest pot rallies. Meanwhile, a bevy of big-time business types are looking to cash in on the crop, including Brendan Kennedy, CEO and cofounder of Privateer Holdings, which claims to be the first-ever venture capital fund for ancillary (everything but the plant) marijuana businesses, and the colorful ex-Microsoftie Jamen Shively. As the founder and CEO of Diego Pellicer, Shively sees the future in a national chain of marijuana shops. All of these people are at the root of the industry, which, if legalization rolls out across the country, could make Washington, and most likely Seattle, headquarters for the next Boeing, Microsoft or Amazon of dope.
The Full List: Most Influential People of 2013
Their finger prints are all over Seattle. From protecting honeybees to regulating marijuana to popping and locking, these 54 men and women (and in one case, a machine) are shaping our neighborhoods, economy, attitudes and future. In the case of our person of the year—for the first time in our nine years of compiling this list, it’s a tie!—the impact is on a global scale. We may not always like the direction they are taking us in but it’s hard to deny: these folks are taking us somewhere.