Liquor Board releases info on pot store license lottery

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SEATTLE —

The Washington State Liquor Control Board held a news conference to release information about the lottery system it will use to decide who can open pot shops and where they can be located.

Though more than 2,000 people applied for retail licenses, only 334 will be issued statewide.

The most populated cities within each county are allotted a maximum number of stores with the remainder at large within the county.

The rules within Initiative 502 said if the board received more applications for a jurisdiction than there are allocated, the state would use a lottery process to produce a list of applicants for licenses.

The Liquor Control Board said the independent, double-blind lottery process will occur April 21 to 25.  The names of those drawn for a pot shop license will be available May 2.

The agency expects to begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July.

There has been some concern that people who don’t win the license lottery would try to circumvent the system by buying a license from someone who was granted one.

According to the Liquor Control Board, an operating license cannot be purchased.  But someone could buy a lottery winner's business, which would essentially include the operating license. The new owner would just need license approval from the Liquor Control Board.

Based on numbers from Colorado, where pot stores are already open, Washington stores could see between 200 and 400 customers a day.

If each of those customers were to buy a $10 gram of pot, a retail shop would sell nearly $1 million of marijuana a year.

Some say that’s a very conservative estimate of the revenue retail shops will see.

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