Retail pot applicant appealing license denial

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING News

NWCN.com

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 28 at 7:14 PM

PUYALLUP, Wash. - The Zanotelli brothers have big dreams for two Pierce County storefronts.

"Our plans would be the largest stores," said Scott Zanotelli, "The Walmart store of cannabis stores."

Scott Zanotelli hoped to open two retail pot locations in Pierce County this summer but the state denied his applications.

His deadline to appeal is in May, weeks after the state conducted its lottery to determine who will receive retail licenses.

Applicants will be notified by the end of the week if they were selected to undergo the background checks required to open retail locations.

Last week Zanotelli received a letter from the Liquor Control Board which stated his two locations were within 1000 feet of a "restricted entity."

The letter did not explain what the entities were.

Under Initiatve-502, pot retail locations cannot be within 1000 feet of places where children gather, like schools, parks or transit centers.

Zanotelli said he hired someone to make sure his locations were not close to any of those kinds of spots.

"We've looked and we've had people go look and we're not," said Zanotelli.

The state would not disclose why the application was denied until Zanotelli appeals the decision.

Licensing Director Alan Rathbun said every denied application was reviewed before the letters were sent out.

He encourages applicants to appeal, but said delaying the lottery until after the appeals would cause "very, very, very, very" long delays in opening retail locations.

"We have a marketplace to establish," said Rathbun, "How fair is it to the 1170 people that did fill out their applications to delay this process."

Zanotelli is convinced the state made a mistake.

He said he will appeal and he is considering filing a lawsuit.

"We didn't come this far just to walk away," said Zanotelli.

In the case of another applicant, a Cowlitz County judge ordered the liquor board hold off on naming lottery "winners" in Longview until her appeal can be heard.

She claimed the state made a mistake reading her application.

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