The Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) has approved the use of a lottery system to select the apparent successful applicants for marijuana retail licenses. WSLCB staff recommended the independent, double-blind process in order to limit the number marijuana retail stores per county as directed by Initiative 502, the measure legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Washington state.
The lottery will take place on April 21-25, 2014, and will produce an ordered list of applicants for each jurisdiction that the agency will use to continue its retail licensing process. The WSLCB is expected to post that ordered list of applicants for each jurisdiction in the public records section of the agency website on May 2, 2014.
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 on February 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 to determine whether applicants are eligible for the lottery. According to the agency’s initial estimates, many applicants were disqualifying for failing to submit the necessary information. The agency expects to begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July.