Licensing begins for legal recreational marijuana at $250 a pop
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Gracen Hook prepares the service window in a medical pot dispensary he is opening in Port Townsend within the next few weeks. Hook, who already operates a dispensary in Port Hadlock, is applying for a license to operate a retail pot shop in Port Townsend. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The state Liquor Control Board on Monday began the licensing process for recreational marijuana businesses, setting the stage for the establishment of enterprises that will grow, process and sell the legalized drug.

“This is a chance to participate in a major policy change,” said Nicole Black, a Brinnon resident who drove to Olympia on Monday to file the initial paperwork to open a retail outlet.

“This is exciting, brand new uncharted territory, and is super cool.”

The state Department of Revenue said that by 2 p.m. Monday, it had received 299 completed online applications, and more were pouring in.

Many others applied in person in Olympia.

The state is accepting the applications for the next month.

Black — who was among the North Olympic Peninsula’s first to seek a retail license — is looking to open a retail establishment at 91 Corey Lane.

She hasn’t developed a business plan, saying many of those details are yet to be determined.

“There are a lot of things that we still need to figure out, like what things will cost and where the inventory will be coming from,” Black said.

The names of applicants for the apportioned licenses will be posted each Tuesday on the Liquor Control Board’s website, liq.wa.gov. beginning Nov. 26, according to spokesman Brian Smith.

License application details can be found at http://bls.dor.wa.gov/marijuana.aspx.

Of the details to be determined, the financial structure of such businesses is one of the most important, Smith said.

Under the structure determined by the Liquor Board, Jefferson County will be allowed four retail marijuana outlets: one inside the Port Townsend city limit and three in unincorporated areas of the county.

Clallam County will be allowed six retail outlets: two in the city of Port Angeles, one in the city of Sequim and three elsewhere.

Applicants must go through background checks, be residents of Washington state and will have to have their potential grow or retail areas inspected by state representatives.

They also have to pay a nonrefundable $250 for every application.

The state has said it will cap the number of retail stores at 334 statewide, which probably will prompt a lottery for those licenses.

Last year, voters in Washington passed Initiative 502, which made the recreational use of marijuana legal for adults older than 21.

Three separate licenses are available: for growing, processing or selling the drug.

No single entity can hold all three types of licenses, although it is acceptable for one company to grow and process the drug, Smith said.

The Jefferson County Cannabis Co., formed this summer by EDC Team Jefferson board chairman Marty Gay and his son, Dakota Sandoval, has developed a business plan for a production and processing facility to be located in Glen Cove.

“The full extent of the market opportunity is yet to be determined and the goal of [Jefferson County Cannabis Co., or JCCC] is to create the market for its products as part of a tightly regulated and judiciously monitored government-sanctioned niche,” their business plan reads.

“JCCC assumes most advantageous market opportunities will fall under the producer-processor license categories and intends to pursue that hybrid entity.”

Gay said that he had no interest in the retail process.

Gracen Hook, who has operated the Hadlock Alternative Clinic in Shold Business Park for almost a year, is planning to open a second medical pot facility this month at 1433 Sims Way, which he hopes he will be able to turn into a retail outlet.

Hook had not begun the application process for retail, and said he doesn’t expect that any such stores will open in Port Townsend before October 2014.

“It’s very volatile.” Hook said of the cannabis business.

“You need a good network of information that connects to the product and the industry in order to have any luck in doing this.

“A lot of places have closed down in the first year.”

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Jefferson Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.



The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Last modified: November 18. 2013 6:32PM
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