Under revised rules proposed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, a maximum of 334 state-licensed retail outlets for recreational marijuana — including 10 in Kitsap County — would be allowed under implementation of Initiative 502. Other licensing restrictions would prevent large commercial interests from establishing monopoly control of the marijuana production, processing or retailing sectors.
The proposed rules that WSLCB refiled on Sept. 4 set a cap on the number of retail stores per county. King County, the state’s most populous, would be allowed a total of 61 retail stores, with up to 21 of those in Seattle. Snohomish County would have a limit of 35 and Pierce County’s cap would be 31. Kitsap County’s allocation designates two store locations in Bremerton and one in Bainbridge Island, plus seven at-large locations in the rest of the county.
If there are more retail license applications in a city or in a county’s at-large area than its allotted number of locations, a lottery will be held to select the locations.
A single entity and/or the principals in an entity are limited to no more than three marijuana producer or processor licenses in the state. An entity or individual may obtain a combination of separate producer and processor licenses, and the holder of a producer and a processor license would not have to pay the 25 percent tax that will be assessed on producer-to-processor sales. There will also be a 25 percent tax on processor sales to retailers, and on marijuana purchases by retail customers.
Retail license applicants may not apply for the other two types. Retail license holders also are limited to a maximum of three, and may not hold more than 33 percent of the allowed retail licenses in any county or city.
The WSLCB will begin accepting applications for all license types for 30 days starting Nov. 16 and expects to begin issuing licenses, at the earliest, in December or January. Due to the anticipated high number of license applicants, the process may take longer than the projected 90 days.
The board does not plan to limit the number of producer or processor licenses it will issue. However, the statewide annual limit on marijuana production is set at 40 metric tons.
The WSLCB filed its first version of proposed rules on July 3. The board chose to revise and refile its rules after receiving additional public input at five public hearings across the state.
“These rules fulfill the public expectation of creating a tightly regulated and controlled system while providing reasonable access to participation in the market,” board chair Sharon Foster said in a news release issued Sept. 4. “Importantly, we believe these rules meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities within Thursday’s guidance memo from the Department of Justice.”
That was a reference to the DOJ decision that it will not interfere with implementation of voter-approved initiatives that legalized recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado.
Required public hearings on the final proposed rules will be held Oct. 8 in Seattle and Oct. 9 in Spokane. The board will decide whether to adopt the proposed rules on Oct. 16, and if adopted, the license application period will start the next month.
Summary documents including proposed rule highlights, answers to frequently asked questions, the allocation of retail stores and others are also available at www.liq.wa.gov.