Let's Talk About How Retail Allotments Work in WA.
The way Washington State works, is they have a set number of allowed retail stores (currently 556 allowed). From that number, they then restrict the location by allowing only a certain number of stores in a city or county.
For example: 42 Stores in Seattle (city), 2 Stores in Oak Harbor (city), 3 Stores in Adams County, etc... all through out the state.
You can download the full allotment list on the LCB site at (http://lcb.wa.gov/publications/Marijuana/MJ-Retail-Allocations-5-9-16.pdf)
With the process, you had to be one of the initial applicants in the process and then also be lucky enough to find a location and get approved before the allotments filled up.
THE RACE FOR LICENSES
There was an initial lottery for licenses held, and then additional applications were granted. Even though you were lucky enough to find an application, it didn't mean you had an approved license.
In order to apply for the actual license, you had to jump through all the hoops and find a suitable location. Once that part was done, the next step in the licensing process was at the State level. After your store was complete and ready, then the State would grant you the license for that location. Those are noted as "Active (Issued)" in the state records.
However, that doesn't mean you can open the store yet. The next step is to go to the city or county for your local business license or permit for occupancy. This is the stage than many owners are stuck at, as the local jurisdiction tends to have much stricter requirements to open a store than the state has.
THE STATE AND CITIES
What has happened now is that the State has filled nearly all of their allotments with Issued Licenses. For 90%+ of the total allotments available, there are more than that number allowed currently in line waiting to be approved at the State level.
With that said, you'll notice many of the cities or counties have bans or moratoriums in place. While it creates much confusion as to what will happen, the State has still issued licenses in locations that have bans or moratoriums. Even though you don't see stores open today, they are already chosen. For example, Puyallup has 2 allotments and a Ban in place. However, there are already 2 stores issued in Puyallup at the State level, so even though the stores cannot open in the city, they are already holding their spaces with the State... and paying rent at a spot they can't do business in.
BEST WAY TO GET STARTED
The best way to get started in the Cannabis Retail Business in Washington is to buy an existing business. Keep in mind that if you buy an existing store, you will have to keep that store in the same jurisdiction forever.
For example, if you buy a store with a license in Port Angeles, then you will only be able to move it to another location in Port Angeles. If you buy a store with a license in Kitsap County, then you can move it to another Kitsap County location (but not the city of Bremerton, because that has it's own allotments).
WHAT DOES IT COST?
Well, it depends on the quality of the location and production of the store... or what it could be with the right marketing and presentation. Today, we have seen some stores sell for $600,000 and others sell for $5,000,0000. It just depends.
Remember, you are buying a retail location, so basic things like visibility, parking, location, the supporting demographics and population all matter.
I hope that helps give you a basic overview of how the Cannabis Retail Stores work in Washington State. No one claimed it was a good system, but it pays to understand how to play by the rules so you can take advantage of opportunities when they are available.