Last Friday, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) announced the results of lotteries held last month to determine who might receive licenses for owning and operating a retail marijuana store. The results are now posted to the public records section of the WSLCB’s website, they announced via email last week.
Lottery winners were chosen through an independent, double-blind process that took place April 21-25.
The rules of I-502 dictated that marijuana retail stores were to be limited by county, and the WSLCB established earlier in Washington’s transition from cannabis prohibition that the maximum number of marijuana stores statewide would be 334. In counties with more applicants than allotted retail stores, a lottery would determine which applicants were successful.
The lotteries produced ranked lists of applicants, categorized by region, which will be used throughout the rest of the licensing process. The lotteries themselves were carried out by the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center of Washington State University and Kraght-Snell of Seattle, which is a private sector audit firm. Both parties were contracted by the WSLCB to independently hold lotteries in districts where there were more applicants than licenses to be distributed.
There were 47 districts that did not need a lottery to determine which applicants may continue through the licensing process, but in the other 75 districts lotteries proved necessary. There were a total of 1,174 hopeful applicants taking part in the lottery system last month.
Entrepreneurs hoping to secure a marijuana retail store in the state of Washington, however, have been warned that making it through the lottery process does not necessarily guarantee getting a license. If an applicant fails to pass the rest of the licensing process, which includes a criminal background check and financial investigation, the WSLCB will pull their application and continue to the next ranked applicant on the list. Applicants are also responsible for having a location that is not within 1,000 feet of a school, park, or other area specified by I-502 as a place where children congregate.
The WSLCB has now begun processing the successful applicants for retail marijuana stores. The Board will soon be licensing producers, processors, and retail stores simultaneously. As of the end of April, there are currently 25 producer and processor licenses that have been distributed. The earliest that the Board expects to issue licenses for retail stores is no later than the first week of July, but it will likely be even longer before the first stores open and Washington’s fully-legalized recreational marijuana market is unleashed.
As was the case in Colorado’s early months of legalization, the Washington market is expected to start off slowly while the cannabis industry’s infrastructure is assembled and things begin to fall into place.
Photo Credit: Joe Mabel