Medical marijuana dispensaries now have a clearer path to staying open.
Legislation passed in 2015 sought to combine the medical and recreation marijuana markets by requiring medical dispensaries to get retail marijuana licenses by July 1, 2016. But until now dispensaries have been in limbo—the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board was not accepting new retail applications.
The board announced today that it will begin accepting new license applications on Oct. 12, 2015.
“If phase one was implementation of the recreational marijuana marketplace then today marks the beginning of phase two—the public process of aligning the medical marijuana system with the existing recreational system,” said board chair Jane Rushford, in a press release.
The board has not set a cap on the number of retail licenses it will approve, the release said.
Bellingham has six recreational marijuana stores. About eight medical dispensaries were open in Bellingham as of this summer, City of Bellingham senior planner Kurt Nabbefeld told the Bellingham Business Journal in July.
Medical stores that don’t obtain licenses by July 1, 2016, will have to close.
The board will review applications using the following merit priorities:
1. First priority will be applicants who applied for a marijuana retail license prior to July 1, 2014, operated (or were employed by) a collective garden prior to January 1, 2013, have maintained a state and local business license and have a history of paying state taxes.
2. Second priority will be applicants who operated (or were employed by) a collective garden prior to January 1, 2013, have maintained a state and local business license, and have a history of paying state taxes and fees.
3. Third priority will be applicants who do not meet the requirements for priority one or priority two.
The Bellingham Business Journal covered this issue in August