The number of retail marijuana stores allotted for Anacortes will double to two under new allocations established by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. One store is now operating in the city.
The number allotted to Skagit County, now ten, will double to 20, though only five are currently operating.
Following an analysis of the entire marijuana marketplace in the state, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board heard a recommendation from staff to increase the number of retail marijuana stores from the current cap of 334 to a new cap of 556.
The methodology for the cap will be part of emergency rules which will be announced Jan. 6, 2016. The allocation of retail licenses determined by the board will be published on the Board’s website.
“Our goal was clear; to ensure medical patients have access to the products they need,” said Board Director Rick Garza. “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.”
Earlier this year the legislature enacted, and Gov. Inslee signed, legislation (SSB 5052) entitled the Cannabis Patient Protection Act. The new law charges the Liquor and Cannabis Board, the state Department of Health and other agencies with drafting regulations that integrate the medical marijuana marketplace into the tightly controlled recreational marketplace.
The Board is charged with licensing retail applicants using a priority-based system.
First priority applicants are those who applied for a marijuana retail license prior to July 1, 2014, operated (or were employed by) a collective garden prior to January 1, 2013, have maintained a state and local business license and have a history of paying state taxes and fees.
Second priority applicants are those who operated (or were employed by) a collective garden prior to January 1, 2013, have maintained a state and local business license, and have a history of paying state taxes and fees.
Third priority applicants are those who don’t meet the first or second criteria.
The WSLCB began accepting license applications on Oct. 12, 2015. Thus far, the WSLCB has received 1,194 retail applications. Of those who have applied, 39 have been determined as priority one and 42 have been determined as priority two. Applicants must still meet all other WSLCB licensing criteria before being licensed.
The number of retail locations will be determined using a method that distributes the number of locations proportionate to the most populous cities within each county and to accommodate the medical needs of qualifying patients and designated providers. Locations not assigned to a specific city will be at large.
WSLCB will increase the number of available licenses in the ten counties with the highest medical sales by 100 percent. Exceptions include Yakima and Benton Counties which have bans and moratoria in all major population centers. The 100 percent increase will transfer to the next two highest for medical needs, Skagit and Cowlitz Counties. Those counties and jurisdictions not in the top ten for medical sales will receive an increase of the number of licensees by 75 percent.
In addition to new retail licensees, 70 percent of existing retail recreational marijuana stores have received an endorsement on their license to sell medical marijuana.