Washington State Threatens to Shutdown Dozens of Marijuana Dispensaries

The following first appeared in Cannabis Now:

It was only a few months ago that the state of Washington allowed cannabis retail locations to open, but there might be some trouble brewing for the folks who have been a little too slow moving forward with their plans. Officials have begun to send out notices to 56 dispensaries statewide that won permits through their lottery process but never actually took steps to open up their doors to the public.

The Liquor Control Board is requiring the dispensaries applicants to make an appointment with a licensing inspector within 60 days as well as provide additional information to complete criminal and financial background checks. If the applicants aren’t able to meet state regulations, their permits will be terminated.

Becky Smith, the Marijuana Licensing Manager for the Liquor Control Board, recognizes that many people have been halted in the process due to lack of proper financing or inability to find a proper location that adheres to state regulations. Others, though, had no intention of actually using their licenses and have encountered red tape that has prevented them from opening retail locations.

“A lot of people thought they’d be able to sell their license – they’d win the lottery and they’d sell it to the highest bidder,” she said. “People were surprised they couldn’t sell their license until they actually got licensed.”

Under state law, licenses can’t be sold or transferred until it’s been fully awarded. Any owners hoping to sell their licenses must first complete the interview process issued by the Liquor Control Board.

“They need to set up an interview and have a place they’re going to operate,” Smith said. “It’s time to provide us with names – who are their financiers, who are their true parties of interest.”

Since opening dispensary locations in July, the state has collected $3.5 million in taxes off of more than $14 million in sales. As of this month, the board has issued 57 licenses for cannabis retail locations, but only 32 shops have opened statewide. If any applications are cancelled, there will be new openings for new applicants interested in opening marijuana retail locations.

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