Marijuana Application Deadline Brings Hordes of People


A lot of wannabe pot entrepreneurs waited until the state deadline to apply for business licenses.

The number of applications increased by 1,200 in the past week, as state officials continue to process a glut of applications that came in just before the Dec. 20 deadline. In data released Tuesday, the state Liquor Control Board has now received 4,946 license applications. But that’s not the final tally as an undetermined number remain unprocessed. The state reports 2,113 applications for growing, 1,521 for processing, and 1,312 for retail stores. There are no limits on the number of licenses for growing and processing, although the state has capped total growing space at 2 million square feet.

State officials have set the number of retail licenses at 334. There are already 244 applications for just 21 stores in Seattle. Some applicants are likely to be eliminated by residency requirements, background checks and improper locations. Stores must be stand-alone businesses, and no pot businesses can be within 1,000 feet of venues frequented by youth, including libraries.

Still, Seattle will almost certainly have more qualified retail applicants than allotted stores. If that occurs, the state will conduct a lottery to determine winners. Growing licenses are divided into three tiers based on size, with the smallest farms occupying a maximum of 2,000 square feet, and the largest farms capped at 30,000 square feet. If all applicants were approved and used just half of their maximum licensed space the state would have more than 21 million square feet of pot farms.

If the state exceeds its 2 million square-foot goal, all growing licenses would be reduced by proportionate amounts to reach that total. State investigators plan to evaluate growing licenses first, so crops can be started as soon as possible in hopes of supplying retail stores by late May or early June. Growers have applied for licenses in 38 of 39 counties, with only tiny Garfield County (pop. 2,266 in 2010 census) not in the game.