Washingtonians may be able to buy cannabis legally grown in the state by next June, under rules tentatively approved today.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board, the agency responsible for implementing a system for growing, processing and selling recreational cannabis under November’s legalization initiative, approved proposed rule changes on the overall size of the state’s cannabis crop, the number of licenses and amount of the plant licensees can keep on hand. The changes are now headed to two hearings in early October.
“We have done something that is making history,” Chairwoman Sharon Foster said.
If no further changes are required after the board receives comments from the hearings, the agency plans to deliver final approval in mid-October, then start accepting license applications in December and awarding them in March. The length of time needed to grow, process and ship cannabis suggests stores would open June 1st, Foster said.
The agency has set limits on the number of stores that can operate in each county and large city, including those locales that have blocked cannabis businesses from operating in their jurisdictions. The board will issue licenses to prospective businesses in those areas, but it will be up to the license holder to challenge the jurisdiction’s restriction.
Among the rule changes given tentative approval today are limits of three licenses per person in any of the main categories — growing, processing or retailing. One person can hold three growing licenses and three processing licenses, but growers or processors will be barred from holding any retailing licenses.
Limiting the number of licenses each person can hold is a way to keep the market from being dominated “by a few larger players,” board member Chris Marr said. It should also encourage cannabis retail outlets to be dispersed throughout the state.
The board proposes to cap the number of retail licenses it will grant for the state at 334, and would also limit the number of retail licenses in every county and some cities.