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Wash. pot business applications surpass 3,000

By: MIKE BAKER
December 24, 2013 Updated: December 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm
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SEATTLE (AP) — More than 3,700 marijuana business applications have now been filed in Washington state, including 867 proposed retail outlets spanning from Point Roberts to Pullman.

Washington's Liquor Control Board released updated figures Tuesday, saying it had received 3,746 applications to grow, process or sell cannabis under Washington's recreational pot law passed by voters last year. The application window closed last week, but board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter said there is still a backlog of submissions that haven't been processed yet.

Carpenter said it's premature to dissect the numbers because it's not clear how many of the applications are viable. He said it appears some applicants hadn't done the work to identify a business location.

"It's really hard to tell how many of these are legitimate," Carpenter said.

Investigators have already started reviewing applicants, and the state hopes to begin issuing licenses at the end of February. Applicants must undergo background checks, be residents of Washington state, and have their business areas inspected by the state.

Along with 1,670 producer applications and 1,209 processor applications, the state has released details on 867 proposed retail outlets. The state is planning to cap the number of pot shops at 334 statewide, so some areas are expected to face a lottery for retail licenses.

After the first licenses are issued, the state expects it will take some time for marijuana to move through the system from production to sale.

The federal government announced earlier this year that it would not sue Washington and Colorado over plans to tax and regulate marijuana sales for adults over 21, provided they address eight federal law enforcement priorities, including keeping pot off the black market and away from kids.

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