April 17, 2013 at 11:58 AM
License delay means pot stores might not open this year
The state Liquor Control Board made it official this morning: Pot licenses for growers and processors will be granted later than initially planned, likely meaning pot stores won’t open until next spring.
As we reported last week, the board’s staff was moving toward a delay, saying it makes more sense to issue all three licenses at once instead of staggering them as the board’s tentative timeline had done.
Under that earlier timeline, the first draft rules, for growers’ licenses, would be issued this month. After public comment, the licenses would be granted in August. Processor licenses would follow in November and retail licenses in December at the earliest. All rules would be finalized by Dec. 1 as voter-approved Initiative 502 required.
In theory, stores could’ve opened in time for consumers to buy heavily taxed holiday treats this year.
Under the new timeline adopted unanimously by the board, draft rules for all three licenses will be filed in mid-June, with public hearing in late July. In September the board would begin accepting applications in all three categories.
The state would start issuing licenses for all three categories in December.
“It only makes sense for potential licensees to view the entire business landscape before they decide to apply,” said agency spokesman Brian Smith.
Because it takes about three to four months to grow and cure pot, stores might not open until spring 2014 — though Smith wouldn’t assign a date to store openings.
“It would seem that way,” Smith said.”But I’m not going to rule out any creative ways to have production earlier.”
He suggested there may be a way for stores to sell pot grown before producers were officially licensed. “I don’t know if that would be illegal or not. I think the board will continue to consider any creative ways.”
Smith said, though, that any such solutions would probably be vetted with the state attorney general and the Justice Department.
“We’ve learned a lot since November,” he said, explaining the rationale for the changes.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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