The Washington State Liquor Control Board announced today that they are limiting cannabis business applicants to one pot grow each, down from the three-license limit they set initially. The move overcomes a troublesome hurdle the board encountered: how to equitably distribute the two million square feet of grow space the agency set as a limit for the new industry when 2,858 applications requested to grow over 40 million square feet of pot.
Additionally, the board is reducing by 30% the amount of grow space that licensees may produce. The board initial created three tiers for 2,000, 10,000, and 30,000 square foot grows, which will now become 1,400, 7,000, and 21,000 square foot licenses.
With that resolved, the state will now start issuing cannabis production licenses. "We're probably looking at first week in march before an actual license gets out of here," says I-502 implementation chief Randy Simmons. "We have to do a final walkthrough, a final inspection. We're scheduling those for next week."
The agency says that over 900 applicants requested more than one license. Doing the math, today's decision leaves somewhere between 1,100 and 2,100 pot grow applications in the pool.
Simmons says the state will give applicants the option to withdraw their duplicate licenses and be refunded their application fees. Otherwise the applications will be put on hold until the liquor board determines the state's legal pot consumption is outstripping production capacity. "The first thing we would do is raise the tier level back up," says Simmons.
Applicants will not be allowed to change their tier level, so if you built a 2,000 square foot grow, you are stuck with a 1,400-foot limit. The agency won't open another licensing window for pot businesses until those mothballed applications are exhausted, so I expect most of those applicants to keep their place in line and forego the refund.