Spin Control

First pot stores: Spokane 3, Seattle 1?

OLYMPIA -- Spokane will likely have three legal pot stores up and running in early July when Washington's first retail marijuana outlets open, which will be three times as many as Seattle.

Potential licensees who won a lottery for the chance to open a store in the state's largest city are lagging behind other locales in completing the steps required to open, and only one is ready for a final inspection, the Liquor Control Board was told today.  Three licensees in Spokane are ready for their final inspections, four in Tacoma, three in Vancouver and three in Bellingham, according to information provided the board. Two other stores in King County -- one store in Bellevue and another in Des Moines -- are also on the list of 20 stores expected to be among the first licenses issued on July 7, as are applicants in smaller towns like Union Gap and Benge.

Those stores would be able to open as early as 8 a.m. the next day.  More stores will get final inspections, be issued licenses and be allowed to open later in July.

Washington will almost certainly have stores spread around more of the state than Colorado did when its first stores opened at the beginning of the year and the stores were concentrated in Denver, Chris Marr, a board commissioner, said. 

The higher costs of opening a store in Seattle may be making it harder for potential store owners to find a location and financing to get the required equipment needed to pass inspection, Marr said. The liquor board received 198 applications for the 21 licenses set aside for Seattle, and it's possible some applicants weren't prepared when they were drawn.

For more pot news from the Liquor Control Board meeting, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

As reported this morning, those stores won't have edible products available in the early days or business.

The liquor board today approved emergency rules that put strict limitations on the type of edible products it will allow, and tougher packaging and labeling requirements.

Any processor hoping to sell edible products to a retail outlet will be required to submit a photo of the product, the packaging and the label to the board for approval. Edible products such as cookies, brownies or candy bars can have as many as 10 doses in them, but they must be scored to show a single dose, and labeled with the total number of doses in the package.

Some edible products which would appeal to children, such as marijuana-infused cotton candy, likely will not be approved, Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. Others that require refrigeration, such as marijuana-infused ice cream or butter, are already banned.

Marr said the board needs to work quickly to get final rules for edible products because processors need a reasonable timeline and it's not practical to keep edibles out of the state licensed stores for "months and months and months" because many of those products are already available in the unregulated medical marijuana stores.   

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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