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State Liquor Control Board approves lottery process for retail recreational marijuana stores
The state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday approved staff’s recommendation for a lottery that will select the apparent successful applicants for recreational marijuana retail licenses.
The independent, double-blind process will take place April 21-25 and will produce an ordered list of applicants that the agency will use to continue its retail licensing process. The agency expects to begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July, according to a liquor board media release.
Initiative 502 directed the liquor board to limit the number of marijuana retail stores by county. In its rules, the board limited the number of stores statewide to 334.
The limit in Kent is three stores, although the city has a ban against recreational marijuana businesses. Despite the ban, numerous applicants have applied to open retail stores in the city.
The most populated cities within each county are allotted a maximum number of stores with the remainder at large within the county. The rules further state that if the board receives more applications for a jurisdiction than there are stores allocated the state would use a lottery process for producing a ranked order of applicants. The allocated list of stores and locations are available on the I-502 implementation section of the liquor board website.
The agency contracted with the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center of Washington State University and the accounting firm for Washington’s Lottery, Kraght-Snell of Seattle, to independently produce rank-ordered lists of applicants in each jurisdiction where a lottery is necessary.
Being identified as the apparent successful applicant is not a guarantee that the selected applicant will receive a license. There are multiple requirements for licenses such as the applicant must pass a criminal history and financial investigation as well as have a location that is not within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other area specified by I-502 as places where children congregate.
The liquor board began pre-qualifying applicants for the lottery the weekend of Feb. 21-23. Applicants had 30 days to return the basic documents necessary to be eligible for the lottery including verification of: their personal criminal history, their age being 21 or older, that they are Washington State residents, that their business was formed in Washington State, and that they have a location address with a right to real property.
A letter of intent to lease was acceptable to be eligible for the lottery. Liquor board licensing staff is currently reviewing pre-qualifying packets. Initial estimates of returned packets show that despite repeated notices and reminders to applicants, roughly 25 percent did not return the required documents at all. Of the returned packets, anywhere between 20-50 percent are incomplete, thus disqualifying them from the retail lottery.
The liquor board is expected to post the ordered list of applicants for each jurisdiction in the public records section of the agency website on May 2.
For more information, go to liq.wa.gov.