Washington: Liquor Control Board Announces Lottery Process For Marijuana Store Licenses
By Steve Elliott
Washington State University and private sector audit firm to produce ordered lists of applicants
The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) on Wednesday approved staff’s recommendation for a lottery that will select the "apparent successful applicants" for marijuana retail licenses.
The independent, double-blind process will happen April 21-25, according to the WSLCB, and will produce a list of applicants that the agency will use to continue its retail licensing process. The agency said it expects to begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July.
Initiative 502 directed the WSLCB to limit the number of marijuana retail stores by county. In its rules, the WSLCB 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 WSLCB 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.
Well, surprise, surprise: There are hella more prospective marijuana store applicants than there are licenses available. And many of the unsuccessful applicants are going to be quite upset, some of them after spending tens of thousands of dollars getting ready to go into the marijuana business. Expect a spate of bitter lawsuits on the horizon.
The allocated list of stores and locations are available on the I-502 implementation section of the WSLCB 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, WSLCB tells us.
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 the convoluted language of Initiative 502 as "places where children congregate."
The WSLCB began pre-qualifying applicants for the lottery the weekend of February 21. 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.
WSLCB 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," the WSLCB states in a press release (you can almost hear the irritated sigh of, "Must we deal with these STONERS?!")
Of the returned packets, anywhere between 20 to 50 percent are incomplete, thus disqualifying them from the retail lottery, according to the board.
The WSLCB is expected to post the ordered list of applicants for each jurisdiction in the public records section of the agency website on May 2.
Note: An FAQ is available on the WSLCB website here.