The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“LCB”) has proposed a new cap on retail marijuana stores. When I502 was first enacted, the legislature limited the total number of marijuana retail stores statewide to 334. The LCB proposes to increase this number to 556 to accommodate the demand for medical marijuana.
The LCB has allocated this increased number of retail stores to cities and counties based upon medical sales and population. The proposed additional allotment for Seattle, for example, is 21 stores. Six additional stores are proposed for Bellingham. Ferndale, which recently enacted a moratorium on new retail marijuana stores, has been allocated one additional retail store.
With regard to unincorporated areas, Whatcom County has been allotted an additional 7 stores at large and Skagit County has been allotted 4. Snohomish County’s proposed allocation is 16 additional stores. The complete proposed allocation of retail stores can be found here.
With all of the moratoria and restrictive zoning requirements, it is unclear as to why the LCB did not just remove the cap permanently and let the market decide where retail stores should locate. As I have discussed in prior posts, finding a location to operate will be a big challenge for marijuana retailers even in cities and counties that have not enacted outright bans.
Now that the LCB has opened the window for new retail applications, the next question is if/when the window for new producer/processor applications will open. Early next year, the LCB may allow those who had previously applied for more than one producer license application to reactivate those applications currently on hold. Whether the LCB will also allow brand new applications is uncertain.
Stay tuned to this blog for marijuana licensing updates and news. For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses, please contact Heather Wolf.