Possible pot shop pool narrows down in Kennewick, Prosser

Tri-City HeraldMay 2, 2014 

See the proposed sites of marijuana businesses in the Mid-Columbia at tricityherald.com/marijuana-map.

The field of possible pot shops has narrowed to five in Kennewick and three in Prosser.

At least two of those prospective businesses won't make the final cut by the state Liquor Control Board.

That's because the total number of retailers is limited to four in Kennewick and two in Benton County outside of the three largest cities. But the lucky eight made it past prescreening by state officials and into lotteries to determine who gets the first chance at the limited licenses.

The lottery results were issued Friday.

In Kennewick, the top four spots for pot retailers went to Max Market, 308 S. Olympia St.; Americanna Weed Co., 320 N. Kellogg St.; Cool Buds, 714 W. Columbia Dr.; and Fun Spirits, 2925 W. Kennewick Ave., Unit B. The fifth possibility, which will be reviewed if any of the other four fail to meet all requirements, is Elevate, also at 714 W. Columbia Dr.

In the Prosser area, Buds Forever, at 364 Chardonnay Ave., and Altitude, at short plat 1535 lot 1, got the top two spots. The Doctor, at 16601 N. Rothrock Road, will be considered if either are refused.

In Walla Walla County, two possibilities on Myra Road -- Tangletown Holdings and Medible Mikes -- have the first chance at the two licenses. Jordan Brands, at 639 Spitzenburg St. in College Place, will be considered if either fails.

To make it into the lottery, prospective marijuana retailers had to prove that they are age 21 or older and Washington state residents for at least three months, said Mikhail Carpenter, liquor control board spokesman. They were required to list any criminal history and had to demonstrate that they had the right to the retail location, such as with a signed lease or a letter of intent.

Those who made it past the prescreening still must make it through the licensing process and may not actually get a license, Carpenter said. That process includes a background check with the help of the FBI and an inspection of the proposed shop. Officials also will make sure the location is not within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other area as specified by Initiative 502.

The local city or county also will get a chance to comment on the license, he said.

State officials expect to issue the first batches of licenses to retailers in July, Carpenter said. Licenses will be issued regardless of whether the city or county has a temporary or permanent ban in place, but the state will process those in areas without bans first.

That means the businesses proposed for Prosser, which is allowing recreational marijauna-related businesses, may be reviewed first, while Kennewick locations may take longer, since the city has imposed a 12-month temporary ban.

Pasco, Richland, West Richland, Connell, Franklin County, Walla Walla County and College Place all have temporary bans to prevent marijuana retailers, growers and processors from opening. Benton County and Walla Walla are allowing recreational marijuana-related businesses licensed by the state.

No lottery was necessary for Pasco, Richland, West Richland, Walla Walla and Franklin County outside of Pasco, because the number of applicants that made it through prescreening didn't exceed the number of planned state licenses. Which businesses made it through that prescreening was not available Friday.

The state plans to issue up to four retail licenses in Pasco, three in Richland, two in Walla Walla and one each in Franklin County outside of Pasco and West Richland.

The state has received nine retail applications in Pasco, eight in Walla Walla, six in Richland and one West Richland, according to state data.

Even with a license, businesses will still need to fit within local regulations to be able to operate, officials have said.

It's entirely possible that some areas will not have the maximum number of retail locations allowed, or any at all, Carpenter said. But the liquor control board has no plans to accept more retail applications at this point.

"Right now we are focused on getting this system up and running," he said.

The state continues to process the applications for proposed pot growers and processors, Carpenter said. The liquor control board has issued 25 licenses for pot growers and processors statewide as of Wednesday.

O2 Sun, owned by Scott Masengill of Seattle, has received a license to grow and process marijuana in Benton City and Fireweed Farms has received a license to grow pot in Prosser.

The state received 62 grow and 40 processor applications in Benton County, 15 grow and 10 processor applications in Franklin County and 20 grow and 21 processor applications in Walla Walla County.

Officials do expect there will be some legally grown pot to sell when the first stores open, Carpenter said. What supply will be like is uncertain. And the prices will be set by the retailers, not the state.

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