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Wash. State Pot Store Lottery Announced; Grow Licenses Lagging

Brennan Linsley
AP Photo
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The timeline for when Washington’s first marijuana retail stores will open has slipped from June to early July, the state Liquor Control Board announced Wednesday.

The next step in the process is a lottery to see who wins a license to open a pot store. The results of that lottery should be known by early May.

It sounds like the Academy Awards – minus the glamor. There will be tamper-proof envelopes and an accounting firm to oversee the competition. But instead of a gold statue, the award here is a license to operate a marijuana retail store in Washington, as long as the randomly-chosen winners can clear a long list of regulatory hurdles.

Ken Jones applied to open a store in Seattle.

“I’ve never won a lottery ticket that I’ve bought. Every raffle I’ve ever entered in my entire life, I’ve never either gotten the phone call or didn’t win. And I said, ‘So I’m due,”’ he said.

The purpose of the lottery is to winnow the many license applications down to 334, the number of allowed marijuana retail outlets statewide.

Meanwhile, stocking the shelves with enough pot to meet initial demand could prove problematic. So far, only nine marijuana growers have cleared the regulatory hoops to get licensed.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.