State flooded with pot business applications

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Nearly 600 people applied for marijuana business licenses in the first three days of the application window.

On Wednesday, 14 state workers began sorting through the first applications.

"To be the first to start all of this, it's amazing," said Becky Smith of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

The first task for marijuana license investigators is to make sure the applicant's property is at least a 1,000 feet from parks and schools.

Before the state issues licenses next year, enforcement officers will visit each property.

Applicants will be interviewed and fingerprinted for criminal background checks.

One felony conviction within 10 years or two misdemeanor convictions within three years will disqualify applicants. 

The state will go easy on people with convictions for possessing marijuana.

"We're going to look at that but not necessarily screen somebody out for it," Smith said.

The state will issue licenses even in cities with bans on marijuana businesses, although license holders won't be able to legally open without local permits.

Attorney Robert McVay with the Canna Law Group believes local bans are illegal.

"We don't think cities and counties should be able to violate state law," he said. 

An opinion from the state attorney general on the legality of local marijuana bans is expected in a couple of months.