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Washington applicants seek marijuana grow licenses more than retail

OLYMPIA – A tally of the first week of applications by would-be marijuana businesses shows a certain amount of creativity in coming up with names for what in most of the country is an illegal business.

Cheech and Chong might be proud of some who play off established drug slang, such as 420 Growers and Producers, Farmer J’s, Happy Daze or United We’d Stand. Dunn and Bradstreet might be happier with other names that give no clue as to the nature of the business, like Triple T Farms or WW Processing.

Based on that first week of applications, it’s also clear that Washington has more than enough people willing to grow the drug. But so far there are applications for less than half of the number of stores state regulations allow.

Would-be growers, processors and sellers could apply for licenses starting Nov. 18 with the state Department of Revenue, which begins processing the requests before sending them to the state Liquor Control Board.

The board, which will regulate recreational marijuana sales approved last year by voters, released Tuesday the names and locations from the 922 applications filed in the first week. A total of 86 applications were filed for Spokane County. Only six are for retail marijuana stores, with four proposed for the city of Spokane and two for the city of Spokane Valley. The Liquor Control Board has said it will allow as many as 18 stores in the county, with eight in the city of Spokane, three in Spokane Valley and seven elsewhere in the county.

The Liquor board has said it will grant up to 334 retail licenses statewide, with limits in each county. So far it has received applications for 158 retail licenses, and no applications in 14 counties.

Spokane County has 47 applications for grower licenses, spread from Deer Park to Edwall to a commercial area east of downtown Spokane, and 33 applications for processor licenses, where the harvested marijuana would be packaged for individual consumer sales, baked into food products or have different chemicals extracted.

The Liquor board set a limit on the amount of space that could be devoted to growing marijuana at 2 million square feet statewide. Submitted applications request almost 6.8 million square feet. The board could hold a lottery or reduce the amounts that some licensees can use after all applications are reviewed, which should be by March.

Spokane currently has the most marijuana entrepreneurs of any county in Eastern Washington, according to records released Tuesday. Ferry County has one application each for a grower and a processor; Lincoln County has two processor applications, Pend Oreille has five growers and one processor; Stevens County has five applications for growers and four for processors; Whitman has two growers and one processor. Outside of Spokane County, the only Eastern Washington retail applications so far are one in Adams County and another in Whitman County.

The state is accepting applications through Dec. 19.

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