A recommendation to increase the number of cannabis retail stores in Washington’s 10 key cities from the current limit of 334 to a new limit of 556 is currently being assessed by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB).
“Our goal was clear; to ensure medical patients have access to the products they need,” Director Rick Garza of WSLCB stated. “There will be more storefronts for patients going forward than are available today. In addition, qualified patients can grow their own or join a four-member cooperative.”
Sale of weed has been banned in SeaTac, Kent, and Sammamish while suspension was ordered in Federal Way. One license was allotted to Mercer Island based on the number of residents and another license was proposed to be added to the existing one.
According to authorities, there is no possible location for retail marijuana store on Mercer Island because such stores must be 1,000 feet away from places where there are children such as schools, playgrounds, parks, libraries, and community centers.
Garza explains the restrictions of cannabis retail in washington
The Board dismissed a license application in May because the applicants failed to meet certain conditions set forth by the city government. One applicant was turned down since the location of the store was within the 1,000 feet- limit.
In Pacific County, about 20 license applications are still pending. There are six applications to operate medical pot retail stores in Long Beach, two each in Seaview and Ocean Park, four in Chinook as well as in Ilwaco, and one pending application in Grayland and Raymond.
The state has also sought help from RAND Corp. to determine how much marijuana the residents of Washington are using. Spokesman for WSLCB, Mikhail Carpenter said they may have to use RAND Corp’s reports as reference on the number of license they will have to release.
Washington is reportedly going to add 222 more cannabis retail stores to accommodate more patients. There are three ways one can purchase marijuana in Washington. Based from the figures released by the board, 37 percent of consumers purchase cannabis from medical dispensaries, 35 percent from retail stores, and 25 percent from the black market.
This year, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation (SSB 5052) which is known as the Cannabis Patient Protection Act. The state is proposing “medically endorsed” recreational weed stores so that medical patients will not have to buy their pot from untaxed medical marijuana dispensaries. This way, the state can easily collect tax revenue.
“We’re looking at $750 million possible sales this fiscal year,” Rick Garza of WSLCB said, referring to the sales of legal cannabis in Washington.
“We estimated $36 million in revenue after the first fiscal year. I think we actually generated $64 million,” added Garza.
The WSLCB is responsible for distributing licenses to pot retail applicants using a priority-based method. Considered first priority applicants are those who applied for a cannabis retail license before July 1, 2014, operated or were employed by a collective garden before January 1, 2013, have a state and local business license, and pay state taxes and fees.
Second priority applicants are those who meet the second and third criteria but were not able to file before July 1.
Third priority applicants are those who were not able to meet any of the two criteria.
The WSLCB started accepting license applications on October 12, 2015. One thousand one hundred ninety-four retail applications have been submitted to the Board, and 39 of the applicants have been considered priority one and 42 were categorized as second priority applicants.
If the board approved the new recommendation, 222 more medical cannabis retailers will be opened in Washington by July next year.
[Image by David McNew, Getty Images]