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Washington State Threatens to Shutdown Dozens of Potential Dispensaries

A green light shines on four jars full of marijuana at a dispensary in Washington.
PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


Washington State Threatens to Shutdown Dozens of Potential Dispensaries

It was only a few months ago that the state of Washington allowed cannabis retail locations to open, but there might be some trouble brewing for the folks who have been a little too slow moving forward with their plans. Officials have begun to send out notices to 56 dispensaries statewide that won permits through their lottery process but never actually took steps to open up their doors to the public.

The Liquor Control Board is requiring the dispensaries applicants to make an appointment with a licensing inspector within 60 days as well as provide additional information to complete criminal and financial background checks. If the applicants aren’t able to meet state regulations, their permits will be terminated.

Becky Smith, the Marijuana Licensing Manager for the Liquor Control Board, recognizes that many people have been halted in the process due to lack of proper financing or inability to find a proper location that adheres to state regulations. Others, though, had no intention of actually using their licenses and have encountered red tape that has prevented them from opening retail locations.

“A lot of people thought they’d be able to sell their license – they’d win the lottery and they’d sell it to the highest bidder,” she said. “People were surprised they couldn’t sell their license until they actually got licensed.”

Under state law, licenses can’t be sold or transferred until it’s been fully awarded. Any owners hoping to sell their licenses must first complete the interview process issued by the Liquor Control Board.

“They need to set up an interview and have a place they’re going to operate,” Smith said. “It’s time to provide us with names – who are their financiers, who are their true parties of interest.”

Since opening dispensary locations earlier this summer in July, the state has collected $3.5 million in taxes off of more than $14 million in sales. As of this month, the board has issued 57 licenses for cannabis retail locations, but only 32 shops have opened statewide. If any applications are cancelled, there will be new openings for new applicants interested in opening marijuana retail locations.

Have you been to a dispensary in Washington? Tell us about your experience.



  1. Herb Nerds

    September 29, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    We have a medicinal dispensary in Washington State called Herb Nerds. But because we moved here a week after the recreational stores application deadline, now I can’t convert my medicinal dispensary over to a recreational store? That’s insane, where is the justice? ‘Timing’ should not be so critical in a “free market America”?

    • Richard Noggin

      December 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Go back to wherever you “moved here” from.

  2. Shadar

    September 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    A very poorly written article and extremely deceptive headline. The retail shops aren’t called “dispensaries”… that’s for MMJ, not recreational pot.

    Terminology aside, the reason some retail applicants are potentially going to lose their license opportunity is that they haven’t done anything to prepare to open their store. The regulators are going to rescind idle license applications and give them to people who actually want to open a shop and serve the public.

    The State is doing exactly the right thing in their effort to achieve their goal of opening more recreational shops.

    As to your last question, I have NOT been to a dispensary, but I’ve been to several of the retail shops. Short supply has been a problem and quality is middle of the road (most of it is 10-14% THC stuff, with only a minority in the 20+ range) with prices about double the black market. But that’s starting to improve and the outdoor crops should be in the shops in October/November. That should make a big difference in supply and hopefully quality and price.

    Starting up legal grows (given WA couldn’t leverage the MMJ dispensaries like CO did) takes some time. The recreational supply line is still in its infancy. Once we’ve got a thousand or so growers bringing in harvests, and a few hundred retail shops open, then we’ll see what the price, quality, variety and supply looks like.

  3. Barry S.

    September 26, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Let me start out by saying that I am one of the directors for a licensed grow operation in Washington state so my opinion is clearly going to be biased. However, with that said I think that the state of Washington is doing the best it can. Is everything perfect? Far from it, but there aren’t many laws that are. Are the taxes onerous? Yes! Are prices too high? Yes, but these things can and will change over time. You have to start somewhere and I think that anyone that has unrealistic “perfect system” or nothing is being short sighted.

  4. Jeremiah sawich

    September 26, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    We can’t smoke pot in Alberta so can u legalize it in Alberta so we can smoke 420 with out getting caught

  5. Elliot Veal

    September 26, 2014 at 1:50 am

    What a fucking suprise! Weed is being controlled by alcohol regulator’s. I feel sorry for americans with the bullshit razorwire trip-mines they call law over there…

  6. victor reyes

    September 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    how cant I become a grower

  7. Craig

    September 25, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    The title of this article is completely misleading. No dispensaries are being shut down, or threatened to be shut down. If you’re already open, this article has nothing to do with you. It’s only those dragging their feet and NOT open yet that are getting the attention, as it should be.

  8. Grannie-O

    September 25, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I have recently purchased 1 and 2 grams strains from the Sativa Sisters in the Spokane Valley. The strains so far have been awesome. Blue Dream, The Fudd, Perma Frost, Carmelicious, Grandaddy Purp, Purple Erkle, Pineapple Express, Blue Hawaiian, and my favorite Shiatsu with 23.4 THC 1.48 CBD. Grams are running between 24 and 25 bucks. With time and more product available prices will come down. It is a great time to be a pot smoker in Wa. State. Oils are starting to go on sale at $75.00 per gram. And soon edibles.
    Legalization rocks!

  9. Michelle Beardsley

    September 25, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Shame on you for misinforming the public. Marijuana Retail applicants ARE NOT DISPENSARIES! They are called Recreational Marijuana applicants under I-502. Please make a public correction.

  10. Scott Dault

    September 25, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    These are applications that these people got with no intention to open a dispensary!!! They were trying to stop others from getting them.. Anti’s unhappy with the results.. Call it like it is..don’t let them get away with it fine them…

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