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I 502 Marijuana Law Update: Lottery Process for Retail Licensing

The extremely limiting zoning requirements surrounding Washington's recreational marijuana law have been well documented here and elsewhere. To summarize, these zoning provisions are so restrictive that there are very few places in Washington that recreational marijuana sales will be allowed. Recently, it seems as if this problem has come to a head.

As many had expected, there are more qualified marijuana retailor applicants than there are spaces where legal marijuana sales will be allowed. This puts the Washington State Liquor Control Board in a position to have to choose from a number of qualified applicants. In order to address this problem, the WSLCB decided last Wednesday that it would implement a lottery-type system to select from qualified applicants.

Though this lottery necessarily means some qualified applicants will be left without licenses, that will not be the case everywhere. I-502 is designed to allow for a certain number of retail locations per county, depending on that county's population. This means counties with low application numbers may not need to implement the lottery system if those numbers are below the county limit.

While some may complain the lottery process has unfairly left them out, other applicants may have only themselves to blame. The WSLCB recently issued packets requesting pre-lottery information from eligible applicants. Early reports indicate many applicants have completely failed to respond, or have failed to respond adequately, thereby disqualifying themselves from the lottery process.

Regardless of the outcome, this process serves as a reminder that the rules surrounding recreational marijuana sales are constantly changing. You should contact a marijuana law attorney if you have any questions regarding I-502, or your eligibility as a potential licensee.

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