The Washington Liquor Control Board has indicated that a lottery will take place soon to decide who will get the 334 licenses to open retail marijuana stores in Washington.
Although marijuana businesses face many obstacles, such as where to bank their money, one of the main hurdles applicants face is finding a place to open a store, given the zoning restrictions in place in many cities and counties in Washington.
Vancouver is slated to have up to six retail stores. The City Council recently approved an ordinance permitting these in a few specified areas in the city. Clark County has continued its ban against marijuana establishments in unincorporated areas.
Of the few grower/producer licenses that have been issued, one is for a business in Vancouver.
The future success of the recreational market may ultimately be tied to the regulation of the medical marijuana market. The Federal government has made it clear that its current hands-off policy toward enforcement depends on tight state regulation to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors.
But attempts to pass a bill which would unify the recreational market and the medical market under a single regulatory agency failed to pass at the end of the session. Senator Ann Rivers said in the April 4, 2014 issue of the Columbian that she plans to reintroduce her bill, which was one of several on the topic, to bring the medical market under regulation.
We will not know what will happen regarding the proposed unification of the medical marijuana market with the commercial recreational market until the commercial market gets up and running later this year and until the Legislature meets again next winter.
Two recent Court of Appeals decisions have eroded protection for patients and their suppliers. The courts said that "collective gardens" are not legal in Washington because of Governor Gregoire's veto of amendments which would have created a registry for patients and their providers. These decisions make it more likely that patients may face drug charges. For more information on the decisions, see my other post on April 8, 2014.