State Liquor Board Announces Proposed Caps on Recreational Pot

Sep 4, 2013

The state of Washington can produce, at most 40 metric tons, or 2 million square feet, of marijuana per year, the state Liquor Control Board said in its revised proposed rules for recreational pot on Wednesday.  

A total of 334 pot stores will be allowed statewide, the board said, and each county will have its own cap.

King County will be allowed 61 stores, 21 of them Seattle. Pierce County can have up to 31 stores. Snohomish County will be capped at 35 stores with five of them in Everett, Thurston County at 11 with two each in Olympia and Lacey, and Whatcom County at 15 with six in Bellingham. Kitsap County will be allowed 10, and Clallam County will be allowed six. 

The rules also aim to limit monopolies. Producers and retailers are both limited to three licenses each, and retailers can only own up to 33 percent of the stores in the city or county. 

"I think [it] avoids the type of market dominated by a few large players, which I think, (according to) the input we received, people wanted to avoid, which could drive up prices and encourage the type of aggressive marketing that I believe we want to move away from," said board member Chris Marr.

The pot rules also include three production tiers: less than 2,000 square feet, 2,000 to 10,000 square feet, and 10,000 to 30,000 square feet.

The maximum amount of pot allowed on the premises of an outdoor grow is 125 percent of an annual harvest. Indoor grows can have half of an annual harvest on hand, and retailers can have a 4-months average supply as inventory. 

The proposed rules require a buffer of 1,000 feet between stores and schools—not as the crow flies, but in common paths of travel. Ads and labels that use cartoon characters or other designs that may appeal to children are also prohibited.

The rules were updated in response to feedback, but also “to meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities,” the board said.  

The state’s first pot retail outlets will likely open in June, said board chairperson Sharon Foster. 

Marr said local moratoria on pot stores may result in “access issues” that may end up in court.