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Liquor Control Board approves lottery process for retail marijuana stores

The Liquor Control Board approved the use of a lottery to for marijuana retail licenses. - Reporter file art
The Liquor Control Board approved the use of a lottery to for marijuana retail licenses.
— image credit: Reporter file art

The Washington State Liquor Control Board approved staff’s recommendation for a lottery on April 2 that will select the apparent successful applicants for 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.

Initiative 502 directed the 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 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 board's 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 licensure 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 Initiative 502 as places where children congregate.

The 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. 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 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, 2014.

Additional information including a FAQ document is available on the WSLCB website at www.liq.wa.gov

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