Licenses for Bellingham's pot stores could be picked by lottery

Ten entities have applied for marijuana retail business licenses in Bellingham so far, which might trigger a lottery to select which ones will be given the go-ahead to open stores within city limits in 2014, according to guidelines set by the Washington State Liquor Control Board back in September.

Washington regulators will allow six retail marijuana stores in Bellingham, and 15 total across all of Whatcom County. If more than six potential licensees apply in Bellingham, then regulators have said they will use a lottery system to pick which ones get to open. The parameters for such a system have not yet been released.

The liquor board will allow up to 334 retail outlets statewide. The allocations were selected using 2010 population data from the state’s Office of Financial Management, as well as adult consumption data gathered by BOTEC Analysis Corp., a private consultancy.

Outside of Bellingham, Whatcom County is allotted seven “at large” retail locations, and the cities of Lynden and Ferndale are each allowed one. So far, only one Whatcom County retail application outside of Bellingham, for a store in Point Roberts, has been filed with the liquor board.

Regulars  don’t anticipate actual licenses to be issued until late February or early March 2014.

License applications for businesses seeking to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana are being accepted until Friday, Dec. 20, so it is quite possible that the total number of applicants will change. Applicant lists supplied by the liquor board are changing week to week.

Along with pot retailers, 35 applications have been submitted for processing licenses in Whatcom County and 38 have been submitted for production licenses. Some business have submitted applications for multiple license types.

View the latest list of applications, which were released Dec. 10, by clicking here.

Evan Marczynski, staff reporter for The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or


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