Marijuana shops may be coming to your part of the Lilac City, as Washington State's Liquor Control Board has approved eight stores for Spokane and a total of 18 shops across Spokane County.
The 43 pages of rules from the liquor control board specify how close pot shops can be to schools and parks, shows how pot will be packaged for sale and how much can be produced.
At Pacific Northwest Medical, the employees are excited about the new rules. Joseph Harrison is a manager and grow consultant at this medical marijuana dispensary and plans to open a retail store next year if he can obtain one of the coveted licenses.
"We have everything down pat as far as creating the flowers, we're just going to follow the regulations as closely as possible," he said.
Harrison thinks some of the new rules play into pot entrepreneurs' favor, especially the 1,000-foot rule, which stipulates stores have to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, and childcare facilities through a direct route on roads or across parks.
"It doesn't change a whole lot but actually opens up pockets of zoning, so I think it will have some impact primarily in the most urban settings," Chris Marr with the Liquor Control Board said.
"That will give us more room to work with, to find an adequate spot so we're able to serve the community better but also protect the youth," Harrison said.
The new rules also limit how much of the market one person or company can own at 33 percent. The 18 stores in Spokane County will be among the 334 stores allowed statewide, which is roughly the same number of state-run liquor stores before sales were privatized.
Harrison hopes his experience and drive will put him at the top of the list of pot shop licensees.
"It's a new industry and we're young entrepreneurs that are eager to see this succeed. It's a historic moment," he said.
The Liquor Control Board will now hold another round of public hearings in Seattle and Spokane in October and will follow those hearings up by opening the application period for licenses on Nov. 18. The liquor control board anticipates those licenses could go out March 1 and, according to Marr, it takes about three months to produce marijuana, so they expect the first stores to open by June 1, 2014.