By Steve Elliott
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) on Monday announced it will stop accepting marijuana retail license applications March 31 at 5 p.m.
The WSLCB had begun processing retail applications on Oct. 12, 2015, to accommodate additional demand and provide additional access points before the medical and recreational marketplace are merged on July 1, 2016.
“We are at the point where the number of highest priority applicants will exceed the number of available retail licenses,” said WSLCB Licensing Division Director Becky Smith. “We’ll meet the retail cap with priority ones and twos that we’re already processing.”
On January 6, the Board adopted emergency rules to expand the number of retail marijuana outlets to "align the two markets," i.e., preside over the shutdown of medical marijuana dispensaries which weren't able to obtain a 502 license.
Based on staff’s recommendation, the former retail store cap of 334 was lifted to a new cap of 556. The recommendation followed an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace by the state’s contracted research organization, BOTEC Analysis Corporation.
SB 5052, the so-called "2015 Cannabis Patient Protection Act," which was devised by I-502 merchants as a way of eliminating the medical competition -- and then passed by a Legislature grateful for the productive new source of campaign donations, both over and under the table -- directed the WSLCB to issue licenses in the following priority order.