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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Pot Store Lottery Announced; Grow Licenses Lagging


The timeline for when Washington’s first marijuana retail stores will open has slipped from June to early July, according to state Liquor Control Board staff.

The next step in the process is a lottery to see who wins a license to open a pot store. The results of that lottery should be known by early May.

It's like the Academy Awards -- minus the glamour.

There will be tamper-proof envelopes and an accounting firm to oversee the competition. But instead of a gold statute, the award here is a license to operate a marijuana retail store in Washington.

That is as long as the randomly-chosen winners can clear a long list of regulatory hurdles.

“I’ve never won a lottery ticket that I’ve bought," quips Ken Jones, who has applied to open a store in Seattle. "Every raffle I’ve ever entered in my entire life I’ve either never gotten the phone call or didn’t win. So I’m due!”

The purpose of the lottery is to winnow the many license applications down to 334 – that’s the number of allowed marijuana retail outlets statewide.

Meanwhile, stocking the shelves with enough pot to meet initial demand could prove problematic. So far only nine marijuana growers have cleared the regulatory hoops to get licensed.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."