Washington Pot Store Lottery Announced; Grow Licenses Lagging

By Austin Jenkins

The timeline for when Washington’s first marijuana retail stores will open has slipped from June to early July. Staff for the state Liquor Control Board made that announcement Wednesday. The next step in the process is a lottery to see who wins a license to open a pot store. The results of that lottery should be known by early May.

It sounds like the Academy Awards – minus the glamor. There will be tamper-proof envelopes and an accounting firm to oversee the competition. But instead of a gold statute, the award here is a license to operate a marijuana retail store in Washington. That is as long as the randomly-chosen winners can clear a long list of regulatory hurdles. Ken Jones has applied to open a store in Seattle. He says he tells his family and friends:

Ken Jones: “I’ve never won a lottery ticket that I’ve bought, every raffle I’ve ever entered in my entire life I’ve never either gotten the phone call or didn’t win and I said so I’m due.”

The purpose of the lottery is to winnow the many license applications down to 334 – that’s the number of allowed marijuana retail outlets statewide. Meanwhile, stocking the shelves with enough pot to meet initial demand could prove problematic. So far only nine marijuana growers have cleared the regulatory hoops to get licensed.

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