License-Squatters May Get Their Retail Licenses Revoked in WA

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is warning dozens of individuals currently stalling the completion of their retail marijuana licensing process that their unfinished applications are now in jeopardy. In total, the WSLCB has sent letters to 56 different businesses, giving them 60 days to schedule an interview with a licensing inspector. Failure to comply will mean forfeiting one’s spot in the lottery.

Many of these businesses scored lucky numbers in the lottery for retail licenses earlier this year, but have failed to move forward in the licensing process since then. “A lot of people thought they’d be able to sell their license – they’d win the lottery and they’d sell it to the highest bidder,” said Becky Smith, the WSLCB’s marijuana licensing manager. “People were surprised they couldn’t sell their license until they actually got licensed.”

Though 57 licenses have been issued by the WSLCB (as of the beginning of this month), only 32 recreational marijuana stores have actually opened their doors to the public thus far in Washington. In the city of Seattle, which was originally slated to receive 21 licenses for retail marijuana stores, only one store is currently open for business.

Meanwhile, the WSLCB has been working to issue the licenses necessary to growing the state’s marijuana market, but laziness, disinterest, or simply the inability to proceed financially on the part of some would-be pot shops continues to slow the process. By shutting down the applications that will not be pursued any further, the board will be opening up some highly-coveted slots for applicants who scored lower in the lottery rankings.

In addition to scheduling an interview, the businesses in question must also provide any information necessary for proceeding with criminal and financial background checks. “They need to set up an interview and have a place they’re going to operate,” Smith said. “It’s time to provide us with names — who are their financiers, who are their true parties of interest.”

KING 5 reports:

“Five applicants in Seattle were receiving the board’s letters this week. Seven letters were going out in unincorporated King County, five in Snohomish County, and two each in Spokane, Yakima, Walla Walla and Vancouver. No letters were issued in any of the dozens of cities and counties that have adopted temporary or permanent bans on marijuana businesses.”

Recent reports indicate that $14 million has been earned through retail marijuana sales in Washington since the market opened on July 8th, with $3.5 million in tax revenue going directly to the state.


Photo Credit: Coleen Whitfield

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