OLYMPIA – More than 300 businesses that get the first crack at opening the state’s recreational marijuana stores will be announced today.
The state Liquor Control Board will publish a list of applicants selected through lotteries to finish the process for obtaining a marijuana retailer license, as well as those who are in cities or counties that didn’t have more requests than the limits set last year.
Washington will allow 334 recreational marijuana stores spread throughout the state in numbers similar to the state liquor store before voters opened up the liquor business. Spokane was allotted eight stores, Spokane Valley three and the rest of Spokane County five.
In most locations, including the Spokane area, applications far outstripped the slots allowed. Spokane had 98 applicants, Spokane Valley 46, and the rest of the county had 15.
The board began notifying applicants selected through the lottery Thursday. Among them was Scott O’Neil of O’Neil Industries, who is planning to open a store at 1919 E. Francis Ave.
O’Neil said he currently manages the Pacific Northwest Medical marijuana dispensary, and has worked at medical marijuana outlets in Spokane and Seattle for more than two years.
That dispensary is owned by Sean Green, whose Kouchlock Industries recently was awarded the state’s first license to grow and process recreational marijuana in a different suite in the building on Francis. Pacific Northwest also plans to operate a separate medical marijuana dispensary in another part of the building.
Under state law, production facilities must be kept separate from stores, and recreational stores can’t mix products with dispensaries.
O’Neil said being selected in the lottery isn’t a guarantee of opening because the store must still pass inspections by the state. “I think it’s a pretty good chance if you keep on track and follow the rules,” he said.
He hopes to open the store by July if he can secure marijuana from growers who are slowly being licensed. “The big question in the beginning is going to be getting product on the shelves,” he said.