The Washington State Liquor Control Board selected winners from the list of retailers who entered the lottery for the right to sell marijuana. The lottery began in April and the WSLCB posted the list of finalists last Friday. This means that would-be retailers have now completed the first phase of the application process but none of them know for sure if they’ll have the legal right to run a marijuana business.
Those approved will now enter the next phase of the competition, which means that they will undergo a thorough background check that investigates their credit and criminal histories. According to Mikhail Carpenter, spokesperson for the WSLCB, their premises will also be visited and analyzed. In the end, the state may award 334 licenses to recreational marijuana distributors.
WSLCB also sorts through all of the applications for businesses that want to farm marijuana and businesses that want to process marijuana before it’s delivered to retail stores. Those applicants are also still going through the process of having their business licenses reviewed.
One would-be marijuana distributor that applied for the marijuana retailer lottery was pulled from the registry last minute due to a restriction that required his proposed business not operate within 1,000 feet of a restricted entity where children might gather.
Having received that rejection letter, the business owner said that he still had no idea what entity the liquor board was referring to. Was it the nearby arcade, which has been closed and out of business but was still listed on Google search engines? Or was the WSLCB talking about an elementary school located three blocks away?
On average, a city block is 328 feet, yet Google Maps measures this school as being 0.2 miles away from his store. There are 1,056 feet in 0.2 miles. So, according to the guidelines, that school would be outside of the prohibited zone.
“I’ve called the liquor board and supposedly I’m supposed to be getting another letter stating what exactly I am too close to,” he said.
The business owner has sent his appeal, and acknowledged that he would have liked to know the reason for his rejection early on because then he could have considered moving his operation to a more amicable location in order to qualify.
Over at the WSLCB, Carpenter said that if someone was excluded from the lottery, in the end, the WSLCB will own up to it.
“We believe there are very few who have been mistakenly removed from the list of applicants,” he said. “There are a couple of different ways they could go to be reconsidered. They can request we look at it and we will. There’s a brief adjudicating proceeding that is quick and factual. There’s also an administrative appeal process.”
Carpenter also said that WSLCB will be awarding the first 10 to 20 licenses no later than the first week in July. Other lottery winners will continue to go through the review process.
Of all of the businesses that entered the retail lottery, 191 were selected. 11 of the applicants on Capitol Hill had applied under the exact same address. Altitude, Danny’s Delights, Medusa Northwest, Northwest Engineers, Rhee Ventures, RR Production, RR Retail, Schonbuds, The Bud Lady, The Happy Leaf and Unkle Ikes all applied for the right to sell marijuana at 2310 East Union Street.
Carpenter said that those businesses were all within their legal rights to file under that single address because the landlord allowed them to compete for the right to sell marijuana there.
Since, by law, a business could apply under up to three licenses, Unkle Ikes also applied for business licenses under addresses located at 1400 23rd Ave and 2314 E Union.