The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (the “Board”) has just announced that it will be accepting new retail marijuana license applications on October 12, 2015. Retail licenses will be issued based upon the merit criteria set forth in the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which was passed earlier this year.
The merit based criteria are meant to favor operators of collective gardens, who have maintained state and local business licenses and have historically paid state taxes. The criteria are as follows:
- First priority will be applicants 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.
- Second priority will be applicants 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 will be applicants who do not meet the requirements for priority one or priority two.
Initially, there will not be a cap on the number of retail licenses that the Board will issue. Additionally, existing licensed recreational marijuana retailers will be able to obtain an endorsement to sell medical as well as recreational marijuana.
In deciding whether to apply for a new retail license, it is important to consider where you may locate this new business. Many jurisdictions ban marijuana businesses outright and others heavily restrict where these businesses may locate. Make sure to carefully review the zoning and other land use restrictions that may apply in your chosen jurisdiction. See my prior posts for more information on this issue.
The Board also announced that it is lifting the 30% square footage cap on licensed marijuana producers. In other words, licensed producers will now be allowed to expand their operations to the original square footage for which they applied (i.e. tier 1 producers will be allowed to utilize 30,000 square feet of canopy vs. 21,000).
Along with this announcement, the Board has published as set of draft rules further implementing the Cannabis Patient Protection Act. The draft rules can be found here. A series of public hearings will be held in regard to these draft rules and the schedule can be found here.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.