Lottery for pot retail licenses will start April 21

A lottery to determine which marijuana business startups will receive one of the state’s limited number of retail licenses will be held April 21-25, with the licenses being issued no later than the first week of July, the Washington State Liquor Control Board announced April 2.

The board approved a staff recommendation to utilize a double-blind lottery to create a list of applicants the agency will use during its retail licensing process.

A list for each jurisdiction that will require a lottery is expected to be released by the liquor board on its website May 2.

Regulators are allowing licenses for six marijuana retail stores in Bellingham, and 15 total across all of Whatcom County. Statewide, the board will allow up to 334 marijuana retail outlets, in accordance with limits set by Initiative 502, which decriminalized marijuana in Washington state in 2012.

As of April 1, the liquor board had received 76 license applications for cannabis retail stores in Whatcom County, according to the agency’s records. Of those, 53 are located in Bellingham, seven in Blaine, four in Ferndale, three in Lynden, three in Everson, two each in Point Roberts and Sumas, and one each in Glacier and Maple Falls.

Applicants who successfully make it through the lottery process are not guaranteed a license, as they still must pass criminal background and financial health checks, as well as ensure their retail locations are not within 1,000 feet of places where children congregate (schools, parks and some other areas), as specified by I-502. Applicants must also verify they are state residents.

The liquor board indicates it will entertain appeals for applicants ruled ineligible.

The lottery will not be conducted by the board itself.

The agency has contracted with Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center and the Seattle-base accounting firm Kraght-Snell, which works with Washington’s Lottery, to produce results.

Additional information, including an FAQ document, is available on the liquor board’s website:

Evan Marczynski, associate editor of The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or

Further coverage

Lottery to decide who gets marijuana store licenses (The (Everett) Daily Herald)


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