Salmon Creek

Clark County could get up to 15 marijuana retail outlets

Clark County could get up to 15 marijuana retail outlets
A tee shirt is displayed at the first day of Hempfest, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Seattle.

The Washington Liquor Control Board proposed on Wednesday that Clark County receive 15 of the state’s marijuana retail locations.

The board proposed a maximum of 334 locations statewide and a production cap of 40 metric tons - a metric ton is about the weight of an elephant - of marijuana.

The number of retail stores will be allocated by population, with a limit on how many can be situated in each of the state's larger cities.

Vancouver would get up to six, while Battle Ground, Camas and Washougal would get one apiece and the county as a whole would have six more at-large licenses to allocate.

Cowlitz County would get seven locations, with three in Longview and one in Kelso.

The process to get a license will be long and stringent. At the end, qualifying candidates will be chosen at random.

“If they meet our requirements for getting a license – and they’re extensive – they would go into a lottery system in which we would pull from that,” said liquor control board spokesman Brian Smith. “We think a lot of people will apply that don’t meet the requirements.”

The rules include packaging and labeling requirements, strict on-site security provisions, software to carefully track inventory and criminal background checks, among other things.

Board chairman Sharon Foster said Wednesday that the rules help create a tightly-regulated system to produce, process and sell marijuana to the public for recreational use. Washington voters last year approved an initiative allowing such use.

The board will vote whether to accept the rules on Oct. 16, and if approved they’ll become effective Nov. 18.

That’s when things will get hectic fast. On Nov. 18, a 30-day window will open for license applications, and Johnson said it will probably take several months to sort through them.

Licenses will likely be issued sometime around March, Smith said.

“We’re estimating maybe 90 days from application to issuance,” he said. “You’ll have everyone rushing to get these licenses in a very short period of time.”

The board also decided that no entity can have more than three licenses in each of the producer, processor and retail categories.