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Wash. State To Issue About 20 Pot Retail Licenses Monday

Brennan Linsley
AP Photo

Washington’s Liquor Control Board plans to issue about 20 marijuana retail licenses next Monday, and the first pot stores could open the next day following a 24-hour waiting period.

But the state cautions many stores may not be ready yet for customers and marijuana could be in short supply.

Call this a rolling start to legal marijuana in Washington, pun intended. Brian Smith with the Liquor Control Board describes an unusual situation in which government regulators are moving faster than the private sector.

“What you find is a lot of times there are places that we want to license, that we’re ready to license and they are not ready,” Smith said.

Even stores that are ready and get a license may decide not open their doors immediately. Smith confirms there are supply chain issues.

“Product is going to be a little bit tight as this market emerges,” Smith said.

But he’s confident by the end of the summer supply will keep up with demand.

So far nearly 80 growers have been licensed for enough pot canopy to cover nearly a dozen football fields. The first 20 or so retail licenses will go to stores in more urban areas. Seattle is likely to see the first pot store. Eventually there could be more than 300 marijuana retail outlets statewide.

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.