WA State Cannabis Lottery is a Go
As Washington State continues to roll forward (pardon the pun) with I-502 implementation for legal cannabis production, processing and sales here in the state, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) announced today that they will select those who will receive retail licenses via lottery.
Yep, you heard that right... by lottery.
Are you feeling lucky?
Colorado is already far ahead of Washington State in implementing legalized pot. One might say they're smoking us in how fast their moving compared to us (pardon another pun). And there have been other issues at hand with the roll out here such as the fact that growers will only be able to produce on a reduced percentage of the total growing space they have available than was previously planned.
I bet some of those growers as pretty pissed about that and I've read opinions that those kind of restrictions might even imperil legal pot businesses because after they pay all their taxes and other business expenses, their profits may be too low to stay in business.
Here's today's announcement from the WSLCB:
Liquor Control Board Approves Lottery Process for Retail Marijuana Stores
Washington State University and private sector audit firm to produce ordered lists of applicants
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) today approved staff’s recommendation for a lottery that will select the apparent successful applicants for marijuana retail licenses. The independent, double-blind process will take place April 21-25, 2014, 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 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. 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. 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 WSLCB began pre-qualifying applicants for the lottery the weekend of Feb. 21-23, 2014. 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. Of the returned packets, anywhere between 20-50 percent are incomplete, thus disqualifying them from the retail lottery.
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, 2014.
Note: An FAQ is available on the WSLCB website here.
The Road Ahead - Onward to Greener Pastures?
Considering there as been revision after revision of the rules, it's unclear how soon we'll actually see people able to buy legal cannabis in this state or if growers will be able to produce enough to meet what is expected to be enormous demand.