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Pot may bring state $25 million by next July

OLYMPIAWashington tax coffers could get a $25 million boost by next July and nearly $200 million by mid 2017 from legal marijuana, state economists estimate. But much of that money is spoken for and won't help the general fund.

The estimates for taxes and fees the state can expect from recreational marijuana, the first such available, are contained in overall economic and revenue forecasts released Thursday afternoon. In general, the state's budget outlook is changed slightly for the better from the June forecast, economist Steve Lerch said. . . 

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Sunday Spin: Call Mad Men. We’ve got rules for pot ads

Every time I forget how far Washington’s venture into the world of legalized recreational marijuana is taking us from the days when pot was illegal and thus the stuff of counterculture song and legend, the state does something to remind me.

It happened again last week when the state Liquor Control Board released a set of Frequently Asked Questions about advertising marijuana.

Think about that for a minute. Less than two years ago, having a place with pounds of marijuana that you would sell in small batches to anyone who happened in could put you in prison for a long time. Now the state has guidelines for Mad Men to follow as you try to outsell your competitors.

Cue Tommy Chong singing “No stems no seeds that you don’t need, Acapulco Gold is … badass weed.”

Which apparently would be OK under certain circumstances, according to the FAQs. . . 

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State wants to be part of pot ban cases

OLYMPIA — The Attorney General's office wants to get involved in a pair of lawsuits between pot businesses and cities that have banned them in an effort to “protect the will of the voters” who legalized the drug in 2012.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said today the state is asking to intervene in cases filed in Wenatchee and Fife that are challenging local bans on the sale of marijuana.

If the courts say yes, the state would come down somewhat in the middle of this fight. It would argue the cities have a right under state law to ban a marijuana business, even one licensed by the state Liquor Control Board. But they don't have the right to ban those businesses because they violate federal law.

“We will oppose any argument that federal law pre-empts Initiative 502,” the ballot measure passed in 2012, Ferguson said. A court ruling that federal law pre-empts the state law that established a system to produce sell and use recreational marijuana by adults could have far-ranging consequences for other communities, he said.

A hearing on the case involving the Fife ban is set for Aug. 29, he said.

Edible pot rules: No to lollipops, yes to brownies

OLYMPIA — Legal marijuana stores won't be able to sell lollipops, gummy bears or other candies infused with the drug, but will be able to sell properly labelled brownies and cookies, a state agency decided today.

The Liquor Control Board approved rules for marijuana-infused food products, also known as edibles, designed to limit items that may appeal strongly to children. . . 

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Sunday Spin: Covering pot — interesting, but no sampling

During of quarter century-plus of living in Spokane, I regularly had to explain to friends and relatives elsewhere that it was not a suburb of Seattle and thus did not get rain all the time.

Now in Olympia, I battle a new misconception, that being the newspaper’s marijuana reporter is not like being its wine critic or beer columnist. It’s interesting on many levels – government policy, changing social standards, complicated chemistry – but there’s no sampling of the subject matter and it has about as many laughs as sitting through a legislative budget hearing.

Which is to say, almost none.

Whenever Washington’s new relationship with marijuana makes national news, envious friends in California will send a “seen this?” e-mail with a story link to some other news outlet and a note usually cribbed from Cheech and Chong or Firesign Theater. . .

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First legal pot buyer in WA was from…Kansas

The first legal pot store in Washington opened not in Seattle or Tacoma or Spokan, but in Bellingham this morning at 8 a.m.

First in line to buy some legal weed was Cale Holdsworth of Abilene, Kansas, Slog reports. Holdsworth was almost immediately mobbed by a gaggle of reporters there to record the moment for history. 

Spokane's first pot store, Spokane Green Leaf, is scheduled to open at 2 p.m. First customers began lining up last night.

Supply problems limit pot store openings

Three stores in north Spokane are among the 25 applicants who will get the state’s first licenses to sell recreational marijuana, but only one will open Tuesday, the first day such sales will be legal.

The state Liquor Control Board this morning released its first list of store licenses it is issuing for communities around Washington. Three are in the Spokane area.

But only Spokane Green Leaf, 9107 N. Country Homes Blvd., expects to open, and one of the owners said they have not yet settled on a time. Because of supply problems that include a processor in the Seattle area cancelling over the weekend, it may be a “soft opening” on Tuesday, followed by a grand opening this weekend. . . 

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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.

No ‘edibles’ when first pot stores open

OLYMPIA — Washington's first recreational marijuana stores are expected to open on July 8, a day after the first licenses will be announced, state officials said today. But those stores will not be carrying “edible” marijuana products because new rules are coming on labeling to discourage marketing to children. . . 

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Update: More Eastern WA pot store locations

 

To check for locations, enlarge the map or click on the locator pins.

OLYMPIA — When the Liquor Control Board announced the “winners” of its lotteries for recreational marijuana stores, it also mentioned there were other applicants getting the green light to secure a license in places that didn't have lotteries.

In those locations, there weren't more applicants than the slots allowed, so there was no reason to bother with a lottery. But with all the excitement over the lottery, the board didn't have time to sort out the locations of the non-lottery applicants.

They remedied that this week, and we've updated the map of possible recreational marijuana store locations above. The list comes with the same caveats, that these are still just applications. The potential owners must still build out their stores and pass inspections before they can open. They might also move if they develop problems with local jurisdictions, but if that happens they'll have to find a location that meets state and local requirements. Those who don't pass inspection won't get licenses

Some E. WA pot stores could be really close to ID

 

To enlarge the map, click on the + sign. To see the  name of the proposed store in a particular location, click on the icon. Google+ map by Jim Camden

Some of the most popular locations for Eastern Washington’s new pot entrepreneurs are close to the Idaho border, the list of winners for the state’s marijuana store lottery suggests.

Three of the Spokane County applicants receiving the green light by the Washington Liquor Control Board to try finishing the licensing process plan to open a store at the same East Trent location, just a mile and a half from the border.

Manpreet Singh of Hi-Star Corp., who wants to open one of those stores, said he picked the small shopping mall in Newman Lake for two reasons. One is he owns a gas station nearby.

The other? “It’s close to the border,” Singh said. That could mean an expanded customer base from Idaho, he said.

Recreational marijuana isn’t legal in the Gem State, so Idaho customers would be taking a risk carrying it back across the border. They’d have to consume it somewhere in Washington, in private. Driving back under the influence would also be a problem.

Also receiving a slot through the lottery for suites at the same address in the 25000 block of East Sprague are NXNW Retail and Urban Top Shelf. The licensing process has a ways to go, and any of the applicants could drop out or switch to a different location without losing their slot, Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the liquor board, said.

Singh said having three marijuana stores in the same area might be tough for business. He has scoped out another spot in the Spokane Valley, but it’s not as good. Among other things, it’s at least 15 miles from the border.

Joseph Rammell received the OK to proceed with his application to open Mary Jane’s Weed in Newport. It would be less than 1,000 feet from Oldtown, Idaho, a short walk along residential streets. But only if Newport drops its moratorium on marijuana businesses within its city limits. If not, “we’re looking at a couple of alternate locations” outside of town, he said.

Several cities and counties have moratoria, but that didn’t stop the board from giving the green light to Rammell or to Kelly Jackson, one of two Asotin County applicants selected in Friday’s lottery. He plans to open his Canna4Life store on Clarkston’s 6th Street, which is less than a mile from the bridge separating the two states. The closeness to Idaho was one reason he picked the spot, although only a few buildings in the city met the state’s qualifications of being at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds and other places meant mainly for children.

Jackson said his lifelong asthma was cured about 20 months ago by medical marijuana and he would like someday to carry some medical products as well. Under current law, state-licensed stores can only sell the heavily regulated and taxed recreational marijuana, but with medical marijuana also illegal in Idaho, that state’s residents might have a hard time getting the doctor’s recommendation to buy from a Washington dispensary.

The Clarkston city council will revisit its moratorium later this year. Jackson hopes it can be convinced to drop the moratorium and go after “marijuana tourism”, billing the area as a destination for people who want to fish, spend time on the rivers or visit nearby Hell’s Canyon – and have a chance to enjoy a recreational drug illegal most other places.

“Tourism is going to go crazy,” he predicted.

The three applicants in Pullman are clustered within a few feet of each other, and less than seven miles from the Idaho border. But interstate commerce isn’t likely the main concern of proposed stores on Southeast Bishop Boulevard. They’re also less than half a mile away from the Stadium Boulevard entrance to Washington State University. Underclassmen take note: The law requires customers to be at least 21, and for the stores to check IDs.

In the Spokane area, applicants making it through the lottery are heavily concentrated on North Division Street as well as East Trent and East Sprague avenues.

The City of Spokane is allotted eight stores, and all but one selected in the lottery are north of Interstate 90. Four are on North Division Street, two on East Francis Avenue and one on North Ralph Street. One applicant just south of I-90 is on South Lewis Street.

All three Spokane Valley stores would be on East Sprague Avenue, with two of them listing the same address on the 9800 block. The rest of the county has seven possible locations, with two more on East Trent Avenue in Millwood as well as the three in Newman Lake. Another is on North Division Street beyond the city limits, and the seventh is on North Hawthorne Street.

Carpenter, the liquor board spokesman, said in cases where the same address is held by two applicants, a landlord could decide which he or she wanted for a tenant, and the other applicant would be able to find a new location — possibly in one of the locations of would-be retailers who weren't drawn in the lottery — and open there.

For a list of applicants in Spokane, Pend Oreille, Whitman and Asotin counties that received the “go ahead” from the Liquor Control Board to develop retail marijuana stores, click here to continue inside the blog.

And the pot lottery winners are. . .

 

OLYMPIA — Marijuana retail stores in the Spokane area could be heavily concentrated on North Division, East Trent and East Sprague, based on the results of the state lottery.

The Washington Liquor Control Board this morning released the results of the double-blind lottery for most of the 334 licenses for recreational marijuana stores. Drawing a number doesn't guarantee the holder of opening a store, but it gives them a chance to secure a lease and proceed with setting up an operation that will be inspected by board staff. Those who pass inspections for such things as security, training and tracking procedures will be allowed to open. If any lottery winner fails to pass all inspections, the next applicant on the list will be given the opportunity.

The City of Spokane is allotted eight stores, and all but one of the lottery winners are north of Interstate 90. Four are on North Division, two on East Francis and one on North Ralph. The lone south side store could be on South Lewis.

All three Spokane Valley stores would be on East Sprague, with two of them listing the same address.

Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the liquor board, said in cases where the same address is held by two applicants, a landlord could decide which he or she wanted for a tenant, and the other applicant would be able to find a new location — possibly in one of the locations of wouldbe retailers who weren't drawn in the lottery — and open there.

Outside those two cities, the county at large has seven possible locations, and five would be on East Trent. Another is on North Division beyond the city limits, and the seventh is on North Hawthorne.

The applications were awarded through a lottery operated by a Seattle accounting firm and Washington State University. 

For a list of the addresses, go inside the blog.

 

Pot lottery ‘winners’ revealed Friday

The original logo for legal recreational marijuana in Washington, which was developed for the Liquor Control Board but never officially used. But we kind of like it, anyway. 

OLYMPIA – More than 300 businesses that get the first crack at opening the state’s recreational marijuana stores will be announced Friday.

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 which didn’t have more requests than the limits set by the board last year. .  .

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Spokane pot businesses could bank on credit union

OLYMPIA — Numerica Credit Union is the first financial institution in the state willing to accept clients whose business is recreational marijuana, the Washington Liquor Control Board was told Wednesday.

But only for Spokane area businesses, Becky Smith, the board's marijuana licensing manager, said: “They want to keep it local.”

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Board likely to ban pot home-delivery

OLYMPIA — Recreational marijuana purchases in Washington will be take-out but not delivery, proposed new rules say.

The Liquor Control Board, which is overseeing the establishment of the state's legal marijuana system, appears likely to ban home-delivery of the drug along with several other tweaks to laws it has been writing and rewriting since voters approved Initiative 502 in 2012. Among the revisions are clarifications to what recreational marijuana stores can and cannot do.

The law already says customers can’t consume the drug in the store or any other public place. Proposed rule changes presented to the board Wednesday and likely to be approved at a future meeting say retailers can't sell over the internet and can't deliver to customers. . ,

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Pot store lottery begins

OLYMPIA — The lottery for Washington's limited supply of recreational marijuana shops began today and will continue through the beginning of next month. But don't expect any snappy video shots of bouncing balls in a cage, which the state's other Lottery features.

It's called a double-blind lottery. And, like it sounds, it won't be very visual.

The Liquor Control Board has sent a list of retail license applicants who met the qualifications and filled out their forms properly to a Seattle auditing firm, which will generate random lists of applicants in each of the state's 39 counties, plus all the cities, where a certain number of stores will be allowed.

Later this week, Washington State University's Social and Economic Sciences Research Center will generate random lists of “winning” numbers for all jurisdictions that have more applications than their allotted slots. That's likely to be most of them, but a board spokesman said this afternoon they don't yet have a full breakdown on jurisdictions and applicants who met the most recent demand for information from staff. 

The auditors will match up the two lists, send the finished product to the Liquor Control Board, which expects to have the selected applicants all notified by May 1. The board will post the list online on May 2, although word of some of the applicants will likely leak out before then.

One other caveat: Just because an applicant makes the list does not guarantee a license. They'll have to pass further inspections of their planned storefront before getting the final go-ahead. If an applicant drops out or fails an inspection, the next applicant on the random list will get a shot.

Problem for county pot growers

Spokane County commissioners may have thrown a wrench into the plans of some would-be marijuana growers hoping to set up in unincorporated parts of the county.

An interim zoning ordinance approved Monday says anyone growing recreational marijuana will have to be on at least eight acres, with plenty of space between the fields or buildings and the property lines. . .

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Pot store lottery at the end of April

OLYMPIAWashington will announce the winners of licenses for its first legal recreational marijuana stores at the beginning of May, after a complicated “double-blind” lottery is held at the end of this month.

The first legal sales aren’t likely until the beginning of July, after the lottery winners complete construction, pass final inspection and get their products from state-licensed marijuana farms. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Pot possession prosecutions plummet

OLYMPIA — Prosecutions of adults for misdemeanor possession of marijuana have practically dropped off the charts since the passage of Initiative 502, the ACLU of Washington said today.

Data from the Administrative Office of the Court says there were 7,964 such prosecutions in 2009. That had dropped to 5,531 by 2012, when voters approved I-502, which legalized private use of marijuana for recreational purposes for those 21 and over.

Last year, there were 120 cases. That's about 98 percent less.

“The data strongly suggest that I-502 has achieved one of its primary goals – to free up limited police and prosecutorial resources. These resources can now be used for other important public safety concerns,”  Mark Cooke, Criminal Justice Policy Counsel for the ACLU of Washington, said in a press release. 

First pot grower’s license goes to Spokane’s Sean Green

OLYMPIA – Sean Green's big plans for a nationwide manufacturing and sales empire got a boost today when the Spokane native got Washington's first license to grow legal marijuana.

Green, who operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane and Shoreline, will begin growing recreational marijuana Thursday in a new facility at E. 1919 Francis.

The former real estate appraiser got into the medical marijuana business after the housing market crashed. On Wednesday, the state Liquor Control Board said Green did the best job of some 4,700 applications from would-be pot entrepreneurs at filling out forms, passing inspections and otherwise meeting requirements for a license to grow and process marijuana. The board awarded him the first license issued under Initiative 502 in a ceremony part patriotic oration and part Chamber of Commerce pep talk.

“Freedom is what brought us here today,” he told a packed hearing room and a half-dozen television cameras. “This program is a testament to what we can achieve in our country if we are persistent enough… Cannabis prohibition is over” . . . 

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What will happen when pot businesses still don’t have bank accounts?

Sunday the Spokesman Review jumps back into pot coverage, specifically how interested statewide and regional banks are in doing business with the I-502 industry that is being created after state voters legalized pot in Washington.

The story finds, a bit surprisingly, that all the large banks in Washington still don't like the idea that they set up accounts for licensed pot businesses. They said nothing has changed despite  recent announcement of federal guidelines for financial institutions to operate in that environment safely.

Also worth noting:  a West side legislator failed again in trying to convince the state to create a state bank expressly for the legal-pot trade. He said, “Unless we give the businesses a way to do banking here, the cash-only operation will be a dangerous way to go. It will be a magnet for organized crime,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill.

Check the Sunday SR for the full story.

 

 

Liquor Board sets new pot-growing limits

UPDATE: OLYMPIA — Faced with far more people wanting to grow legal marijuana than state rules would allow, the Liquor Control Board upped the amount of land that can be planted to the drug by more than five-fold. But it also put some new restrictions on would-be growers.

The board agreed Wednesday to limit applicants to one grower license per business entity, cutting down on the multiple requests some new marijuana entrepreneurs have turned in for as many as three grower licenses. It also reduced the amount of land all requests will be allowed to plant by 30 percent.

“We are going to do this right,” Board Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. “The Department of Justice is not going to have anything to complain about for the state of Washington.”

The board’s decision came as the state’s fiscal analysts made their first estimates of legal marijuana’s boost to state coffers – a possible $51 million bump in tax revenue from recreational sales – and the Legislature continued to examine ways to merge the separate existing medical marijuana system with the untried recreational system. . . 

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Perhaps they should form a joint task force

As state regulators prepare to start issuing marijuana licenses, some towns and cities are struggling with the idea that pot soon could be legally sold for recreational purposes in their communities.

Liberty Lake wants a timeout and last week adopted a six-month moratorium, as reported in Tuesday's edition of The Spokesman-Review. Rockford and Fairfield already had moratoriums in place.

Spokane Valley may explore imposing additional restrictions on pot shops wanting to operate within city limits there.

Although voters statewide, and in Spokane County, overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure in 2012 legalizing recreational marijuana use among adults, there were pockets of opposition in mostly rural parts of Eastern Washington.

Exceptions include Liberty Lake and Fairfield, where about 55 percent of voters in each community opposed legalization. Deer Park voters also opposed the ballot measure, 867 to 783.

Spokane Valley voters narrowly approved the ballot measure: 20,340 to 20,042 (50.4 percent).

Here's how other cities in Spokane County voted: Spokane, 60 percent in favor; Medical Lake: 653 to 573 in favor; Millwood, 523 to 414 in favor; Rockford, 142 to 84 in favor; Waverly, 28 to 24 in favor; and Cheney, 1,913 to 1,521 in favor.

The above map was put together by reporter Jim Camden in 2012 using final numbers from the Nov. 6 general election.

No pot sellers on Google, TIME says

One more obstacle for Washington's budding marijuana industry to confront: You won't be able to advertise on Google or Facebook.

That according to TIME, which says that even in Washington and Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal, Google and Facebook will not allow sellers to advertise their wares.

Washington's new regulations on recreational marijuana have strict rules for standard advertising like signage for stores but Internet advertising isn't mentioned in the regs.

AG’s opinion on cities, counties banning pot businesses

OLYMPIA – Cities and counties can say no to recreational marijuana businesses even though Washington voters have said yes, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday.

In a formal attorney general's opinion responding to questions from the Liquor Control Board, Ferguson and his staff said Initiative 502 doesn't pre-empt a local government's right to approve extra restrictions or outright bans to businesses that want to grow, process or sell the drug. The state Constitution gives cities and counties broad authority to control activities inside their borders unless a law specifically pre-empts that.

I-502, as written and passed by voters in, didn’t. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

To read the opinion, click on the document below.


Documents:

Daily Show tweets about WA pot biz rush

As reported earlier this week in Spin Control:

OLYMPIA — Washington is seeing a green rush of sorts in marijuana, with far more people wanting to grow and sell the drug legally than the state will allow.

Demand high for pot licenses

Applications for marijuana stores in Spokane County

Applications for marijuana growing licenses in Spokane County

OLYMPIA — Washington is seeing a green rush of sorts in marijuana, with far more people wanting to grow and sell the drug legally than the state will allow.

State agencies will approve no more than 334 licenses for retail marijuana stores and they already more than 2,000 applicants. Would-be pot entrepreneurs also have proposed planting many times more land than the will allow for its newest cash crop. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Pot applications continue to pour in

Applications for marijuana stores in Spokane County

OLYMPIA — Washington has many times more people who want to sell or grow marijuana that the state will allow, and all the applications have yet to be processed.

The Washington Liquor Control Board today released the names and addresses of some 6,600 businesses that have applied for licenses to produce, process or sell recreational marijuana under the law voters passed in November 2012.

The 2,035 applications for retail marijuana stores is about six times more than the 334 retail licenses that board said will be approved for Washington. After all of the applications are examined to make sure they comply with rules for obtaining any required local permits and have locations that are at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, playgrounds or other areas mainly for children, the board will hold a lottery in each county or city that has more applications than the number allocated.

The Spokane area has nearly eight times more requests for retail licenses than the 18 allocated. Under board rules, the city of Spokane can have eight marijuana stores, the city of Spokane Valley can have three and all other areas of the county can have seven. 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Liquor Board would limit medical marijuana

Washington should severely cut the amount of marijuana that medical patients can possess, require them to register with the state, have annual medical checkups, and pay most of the same taxes as recreational users, a state agency recommended today.

In a move sure to draw fire from the medical marijuana community, the state Liquor Control Board released recommendations it will send to next year's Legislature as the state tries to blend two sets of laws on the drug.

The board is authorized by Initiative 502 to regulate recreational marijuana use, and is currently accepting applications for businesses that want to grow, process or sell the drug to adults for private use. The board has no authority over medical marijuana, which was approved by voters in 1998, and is largely unregulated.

As part of the 2013-15 general operating budget earlier this year, the Legislature directed the board to work with the state departments of Health and Revenue to study the two systems and come up with recommendations to integrate them. Legislators will still have to draft bills that would include some or all of the recommendations, and get them through the two chambers and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

For more information on the board's recommendations, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Pot store applications growing

 

Washington has received 230 license applications for recreational marijuana stores.

As the map shows, many are concentrated between Everett and Tacoma — no surprise because that's where the state's population is concentrated. But the proposals for stores are also starting to dot the rest of the state, and Spokane County has nine, half of the allotment the Liquor Control Board has set aside.

Businesses have until Dec. 19 to apply for a license to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana under Initiative 502. 

For an enlargeable map that has names and addresses of would-be marijuana stores, click here