The Washington State Liquor Control Board is set to be retitled the ‘Liquor and Cannabis Board’ on July 24th. The Board will be charged with deciding which of the state’s collective gardens will be allowed to obtain licenses to become legal medical marijuana outlets under the recently-passed Senate Bill 5052.

Collective gardens — Washington’s term for medical marijuana dispensaries — have been essentially unregulated since 2011, when the governor used a line-item veto to remove much of the language in a bill that would have regulated such stores. Once the state legalized recreational cannabis, it became clear that the new industry would have trouble competing with a legal but unregulated quasi-medical system.

The state’s currently-operating collective gardens will be forced to close by July 1st, 2016. The Liquor and Cannabis Board will use a merit-based system to determine which collective gardens will be awarded licenses to become recreational outlets. Of the 825 outlets the Board expects to apply, around half will be given licenses.

Collective gardens that have been operating since before 2013 and have paid taxes will be given first priority.


Photo Credit: Neon Tommy

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