First-ever marijuana retail licenses lottery kicks off in WA

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by TERESA YUAN / KING 5 News

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 21 at 12:47 PM

OLYMPIA -- Washington state's first-ever pot retail licenses lottery kicks off April 21 - 25. The Washington State Liquor Control Board says the process will be extremely secure and will determine who gets a retail license to sell pot legally in Washington.

Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, says the process will work essentially like the Washington State Lottery.

The liquor control board is using Kraght-Snell, a Seattle firm, to serve as the accountant for the Washington Lottery.

There's a total of 334 retail licenses in the lottery for the entire state. A list of pre-screened applicants will be assigned a number by Kraght-Snell. Then, those numbers will be chosen randomly by Washington State University's Social and Economic Sciences Research Center, not by the Liquor Control Board. The State's Treasurer's Office will be on hand to witness the lotteries.           

Initially, the state received more than 2,000 applications to sell pot legally. But a large percentage failed to complete the application properly

The board estimates roughly 1,500 applicants will be part of this week's lottery. Once someone wins a retail license, they'll still have to pass an intense background check.

Garza says the criminal background checks will not only be on the applicants, but also on the investors and financier. 

"That they all have to be vetted, they all have to be in Washington, is something unique to this initiative,” said Garza.

The state will release who won a pot retail license on May 2. State officials expect the first weed store will be up and running in July 2014.

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