The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has received applications from 19 businesses that want to sell medical marijuana in Whatcom County.
The board has so far approved six medical endorsements. All are existing stores that have a license to sell recreational pot.
Among those getting endorsements is 2020 Solutions, which has two stores in Bellingham.
“We saw the need to serve medical patients in our stores as the medical market changes dramatically,” said Aaron Nelson, senior vice president of operations for 2020 Solutions.
Nelson said 2020 applied for the endorsements shortly after the board began accepting them Oct. 12 and received approval quickly.
The board last month started accepting new applications for stores as part of the process of regulating medical marijuana, as mandated by the Legislature. Medical marijuana is being folded into the recreational pot industry, which state voters essentially created by approving Initiative 502 in 2012.
Those organizations that have been selling medical marijuana, which has been unregulated, must now get a recreational license as well as the endorsement.
And getting that recreational pot license can take a while, as would-be retailers learned during the first round of licensing that began in 2013.
Why is it taking so long? We were a bit shocked and disappointed that we haven’t received our recreational (license)/medical endorsement yet.
Eric Russell, Healthy Living Center in Bellingham
The businesses that have received the state OK to sell medical marijuana are:
▪ 2020 Solutions, 2018 Iron St., Bellingham.
▪ 2020 Solutions on the Guide, 5655 Guide Meridian, Bellingham.
▪ Buds SOS, 6061 Portal Way, Ferndale.
▪ Green Leaf, 4220 Meridian St., Bellingham.
▪ Top Shelf Cannabis, 3863 Hannegan Road, Bellingham.
▪ W.C.W. Enterprises, 3708 Mount Baker Highway, between Everson and Deming.
They won’t be able to start selling medical marijuana products until July 1, when the endorsements go into effect, provided the state Department of Health has defined what constitutes medical marijuana.
July 1 is also when existing medical pot operations must shut down if they’re not licensed.
Applicants are being considered based on three priorities established by the Legislature.
Top priority goes to those who applied for a marijuana retail license prior to July 1, 2014; operated, or were employed by, a collective garden before Jan. 1, 2013; have maintained a state and local business license; and have paid state taxes and fees.
Second priority will be for applicants who operated, or were employed by, a collective garden before Jan. 1, 2013, have maintained a state and local business license, and have paid state taxes and fees.
Third priority is for those who don’t meet the above requirements.
The partners in Healthy Living Center, a medical marijuana operation on James Street in Bellingham, said they meet the priorities but haven’t had their license approved yet. They also haven’t been given a timeline for when that might be, so they’re concerned about medical access for their patients.
Eric Russell, one of the partners, said the dispensary shouldn’t have a problem getting licensed.
“So why is it taking so long?” he said. “We were a bit shocked and disappointed that we haven’t received our recreational (license)/medical endorsement yet.”