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Even University Mathematicians Have Role In Marijuana Legalization

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The path to marijuana legalization in Washington state is keeping even university math professors busy.

They played a key role in developing the lottery now under way to determine who gets a license to open a pot store.

The security procedures for this marijuana license lottery are elaborate. There’s an independent accounting firm, tamper-proof envelopes and randomly-generated numbers.

Random numbers are used so no one has an unfair advantage in the lottery. These numbers are generated using procedures developed by math professors at Washington State University. The procedures sound like the “two-man rule” for nuclear missile codes: two staff members and two sets of randomly-generated digits are combined to make the final lottery number.

Statewide, the ratio between applicants and licenses is more than three to one. The lottery winners should be notified starting next week.

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.