SPOKANE — There would be a maximum of 334 locations that sell recreational marijuana in Washington under rules proposed Wednesday by the state Liquor Control Board.
Under the board’s proposed rules, Yakima County could get up to 14 stores: five in the city of Yakima; one each in Grandview, Selah and Sunnyside; and six others in communities to be determined.
Several Yakima County cities and the county have passed or are considering six-month moratoriums on allowing recreational marijuana grows and businesses, but the earliest the state-licensed stores could open is next June.
Neighboring Kittitas and Klickitat counties could get four each, including at least two in Ellensburg and at least one in Goldendale.
Benton County was allocated 10 stores, in Kennewick, Richland and West Richland. The Liquor Control Board designated two “at-large” locations, which means it’s possible Prosser could get one.
The board also set a production cap of 40 metric tons of marijuana per year, and limited the number of licenses individual entities could hold.
“These rules fulfill the public expectation of creating a tightly regulated and controlled system while providing reasonable access to participation in the market, said board chair Sharon Foster. “We believe these rules meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities within (last) Thursday’s guidance memo from the Department of Justice.
The number of retail stores will be allocated by population, with a limit on how many can be situated in each of the state’s larger cities and in each county.
Washington and Colorado both legalized the recreational use of marijuana last fall.
The board in July had filed proposed rules, which it revised after five public hearings. There is a 30-day public comment period before the rules are adopted.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced last week that it would not sue Washington or Colorado over plans to tax and regulate pot sales for adults as long as the states adhere to the federal priorities that include preventing drugged driving and keeping marijuana away from kids and off the black market.
The Justice Department said strong state regulatory systems could actually enhance federal law enforcement goals by keeping marijuana profits from cartels.
State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, on Wednesday praised the board’s proposed rules.
“While further public input is essential in potentially refining the rules, these are well-thought-out solutions that are reasonable and appropriate,” she said. “The board was smart to prioritize public safety and consumer safety while providing reasonable access and also meeting the eight federal enforcement priorities set by the Department of Justice.”
“I’m pleased that the proposed caps on grow size would allow for greater participation for small-sized producers rather than for fewer, large-sized producers,” she said.
The revised rules set the maximum amount of space for marijuana production at 2 million square feet.
They also limit any entity to three producer or processor licenses and three retail licenses.
“We want to avoid a market dominated by large players, which could drive up prices and encourage aggressive marketing,” board member Chris Marr said.
The most populous cities within each county are allocated a proportionate number of stores, and there are also at-large stores available to serve other areas of each county.
King County, the state’s most populous, could have up to 61 stores, with up to 21 of those in Seattle.
• Information from the Yakima Herald-Republic was included in this report.