Proposed Richland pot stores denied

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMay 5, 2014 

Richland isn't going to have any marijuana retail outlets -- at least for now.

None of the proposed stores in Richland made it past a prescreening by the state Liquor Control Board.

Statewide, only 54 percent of the almost 2,200 applications the agency received for potential pot shops met the most basic criteria.

The nearly 1,000 locations that failed either didn't send the state all the required information, were too close to a school or another location prohibited by Initiative 502, or failed to self-report criminal history, said Mikhail Carpenter, the agency's spokesman.

The failure rate was higher in Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties -- 69 percent, according to data released by the state Monday. The number of proposed pot stores in the three counties has narrowed from 55 to 17.

In Richland, all six applications were denied.

Pasco's possible pot stores were slashed to three from 12, so even if all three are able to get a license, the city will still have fewer stores than the maximum four set by the state. There are no applications for marijuana retailers in Franklin County outside of Pasco.

Both West Richland and Walla Walla only have remaining applications for the maximum number of stores, one and two respectively. Walla Walla's possibilities were cut down from eight.

A lottery was needed for a few Tri-City jurisdictions to determine who would have the first chance at the limited retail licenses.

Kennewick's field of applicants was cut down from 22 to five after prescreening. Prosser went from four applications to three, while Walla Walla County outside of Walla Walla stayed with three applications. At least one application in each will be refused, since the state is only allowing up to four retail licenses in Kennewick and two each in Walla Walla County outside of Walla Walla and Benton County outside of the three largest cities.

The liquor control board will assess whether more stores are needed after licenses are issued to the prescreened applicants who qualify, Carpenter said. Officials have not decided yet if the application window for licenses will be reopened.

Officials expect to issue the first licenses in July, but going through all the remaining applications will take more time.

Prescreened applicants still need to make it through a criminal background check, a financial investigation and an inspection of the proposed shop in order to receive a license, Carpenter said.

And businesses must comply with local regulations, so if cities or counties have a permanent or temporary ban in place, they can't open. The state agency is processing first any applications for locations without permanent or temporary bans.

Prosser, Benton County and Walla Walla are allowing recreational marijuana-related businesses licensed by the state.

But Kennewick, 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.

The Pasco City Council has asked city staff to draft a ban for marijuana-related businesses. During a recent council meeting, three of the six city council members present were leaning toward banning the businesses, Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins said. The city's current 12-month moratorium expires in September, so there still is time to consider the issue.

"We are in the throes of change, and I get that," Watkins said.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

Possible Pasco, Walla Walla and West Richland pot shops

Lucky Leaf, 404 W. Lewis St., Pasco

Thrive, 223 S. 24th, Pasco

Grun, 223 S. 24th Ave., Pasco

Luscious Leaf, 2815 Isaacs Ave., Walla Walla

Green Leaf, 2283 Isaacs Ave., Walla Walla

High Society, 4201 Kennedy Road Ste. 3, West Richland

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