Other than the recent mudslide (and maybe the Seahawks' Super Bowl win), the most-watched story in the state of Washington this year has been the process to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.
The state's Liquor Control Board has been accepting and inspecting applications from entities who want to be a part of the pot business in Washington. The board has even approved eight licenses to grow marijuana for recreational sales purposes.
However, it doesn't look like any Washington resident will be able to actually purchase pot from a state-approved retailer until the second half of the year.
That's the news from LCB chairwoman Sharon Foster, who noted the slow progress of processing applications for pot retailers (though she left open the possibility of a late June opening sale date). But Foster pointed to license applicants failing to provide requested information as a major reason for the delay in the process. She claims that almost a quarter of the more than 2,100 retailer applicants have not answered the LCB's request for basic information, such as proof of residency or age. In addition, state officials have revealed a lottery plan for assigning retail licenses in areas where there are more applicants than openings.
This isn't too surprising given the number of applications that have been requested statewide. For instance, only 21 retailers are permitted under statute to operate in Seattle under the new laws, but more than 400 entities have submitted applications for those spots.
The bottom line? It'll probably be at least July before the first pot retailer opens in Washington - and even longer before all of the kinks are worked out of the new system of selling marijuana to residents.