Opening up a Marijuana Dispensary in Washington State: Licensing

I-502 is a Washington State initiative that defined and distinguished marijuana from other parts of the cannabis plant and went on to legalize small amounts of marijuana and marijuana-derived products for recreational use for most adults. This initiative along with a similar one in Colorado puts these states in the forefront of this new legalized marijuana frontier. These pioneers now face the arduous task of regulation from bottom to top, which in the case of Washington State isn’t projected to come to fruition until December 2013 at the earliest. This means that the road to getting your marijuana proprietor’s license isn’t completely paved smooth yet but the following are some proposals that will most likely define the application process and get you started on that path to opening up your own marijuana dispensary in Washington State!

What your need to know when applying for your marijuana dispensary License

I-502 creates three separate tiers in handling and distribution. These are: marijuana producer, marijuana processor, and a marijuana retailer. Each role requires it’s own separate license. Some of the requirements to obtain a license are:

* All applicants and employees must be of 21 years of age

* Minors restricted signs must be posted at all licensing premises

* No privileges may be taken by the applicant prior to board approval of marijuana license

* No locations may have limited law enforcement access

* The board will not grant a license to a location that is housed within another business. I.e no commingled licensure. However, an establishment may have two licenses given that they are separated by walls and a separate entrance, just as long as the products aren’t mixed.

* The board reserves the right to impose special conditions in operations of the business

* Sanitary practices must be adopted and enforced

* No marijuana consumption allowed on premises

* The board has the right to dictate how much marijuana is allowed on the premises at a time.

What happens to my application once I submit my marijuana dispensary license application?

Once your application is in, the board will conduct the following which will determine whether or not you get your marijuana license:

  • The board will send a notice to cities and counties, which may include tribal councils and port authorities regarding the application. These entities then have 20 days to submit a recommendation for approval or objection.
  • They will then verify whether you meet the requirements for the type of marijuana license you request.
  • ** this includes a background check and criminal history check
  • A financial investigation will be conducted determining where the funds are being sourced for the start up.
  • They may conduct a final inspection of place of business
  • All applicants must have resided in Washington State for at least three months prior to application for a marijuana license. This will include a residency check.
  • With the application an operating plan and floor plan must be submitted. This must include detailed information of how business will function within the space, as well as producer, processor, and retailer: security, traceability, employee qualifications, transportation and destruction of waste.
  • You must be free of any tax obligations to the state department of revenue as an individual.
  • You must adhere to local business codes such as; fire codes, zoning ordinances and business licensing
  • When and how can I apply for my marijuana marijuana license

The Washington State Liquor Control Board will be in charge of processing and evaluating applications for a marijuana proprietor’s license.

  • The WSLCB will begin accepting 1-502 applications on September 16, 2013.
  • The application fee will be $250 with an $1000 renewal fee for all three licenses.

For more information go to their website at

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