Washington State will boost the number of licenses for cannabis stores by 66% following a recommendation by analysts who have taken a close look at the market.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said in a statement that it plans to increase the number of licensed stores to 556 from 334, citing a desire to ensure access to cannabis for medical marijuana patients.
Under that same effort, the board has given scores of existing rec stores formal endorsements to sell medical marijuana.
The moves are part of the state’s attempt to fold its unregulated medical cannabis industry into its recreational MJ program.
The new licenses will be distributed according to medical marijuana sales in each county. Counties with the highest medical sales will see their retail marijuana store licenses. A few counties, however, still ban marijuana businesses.
The state will also use a three-tier “priority system,” based on license application dates and history of compliance to determine which applicants receive licenses first.
The board began accepting applications for new licenses on Oct. 12, 2015. So far, it has received 1,194 retail applications, the statement said.