~~OLYMPIA – More than 800 potential new businesses have signed up to grow, process or sell legal marijuana in the first week Washington accepted applications for its new industry.
Rick Garza, director of the state Liquor Control Board which will award the licenses, told a legislative committee Friday about 200 applications are for retail outlets, and the state will license up to 334 stores, but is limiting the licenses for each county and most cities. If the board gets fewer applications than it is allowing for the state or some community, it could reopen the process, he said. The window for license applications currently is scheduled to close Dec. 19.
The state might not hit its targets for the number of stores or the amount of space to be planted to legal marijuana because some counties and cities have passed moratoria or bans on marijuana licenses, Garza told the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.
“We will issues licenses regardless of whether there are moratoria or bans,” he said. But the licensees might have to go to court to overturn a local moratorium. The board has asked for a formal state attorney general’s opinion on whether cities and counties can override state regulations, but it might not be available before the Dec. 19 cutoff.
The board will also make recommendations next month on how to change the state’s medical marijuana laws, but any legislation will come through the House and Senate Health Care Committees.