WASHINGTON: They’ve been months in the making with one serious delay … but the rules governing the legal marijuana market in Washington have been adopted into law – let the applications being rolling in on Nov. 18.
“These rules will serve as the basis for Washington’s newly created recreational marijuana market and are the result of 10 months of research and public input,” the board said in a news release.
Lots of questions remain for the market outside of how it will be run by the state. Chief among those questions is where will legal marijuana businesses do their banking? Will the federal government allow business tax deductions? Will the Department of Justice help or hinder progress on either of these two fronts?
Also, Washington’s medical marijuana “gray market” is under pressure to become part of the legal market or face a troubled future. The legislature is under the gun to determine whether some smaller version of the system for medical marijuana will be codified and so on.
The state will license a total of 334 retail stores, allocated by population and accessibility. Some cities in Washington have moratoriums on opening those stores but others like Seattle and Tacoma either have set up new zoning rules for where growers, producers and stores can locate or have them on the books to be adopted.
Here’s who gets the most retail stores:
- Seattle – 21 stores.
- King County – 61 stores.
- King County at large (outside of cities) – 11
- Bellevue – 4
- Pierce County – 31
- Snohomish County -35
Not everyone thinks this will be enough stores to combat the black market or meet demand. In fact, LCB members have said the first wave of stores will likely only compete for about a quarter of the black market, but they hope to get the new system up and running on this smaller scale and then take it up a notch as it stabilizes and the size of the market is better understood.
Seattle alone has roughly 150 medical marijuana dispensaries already and more seem to be coming online daily. Consequently, as we reported, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has argued for more retail outlets.