Liquor control board posts initial pot lottery rankings

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 7:58 AM

Updated Friday, May 2 at 5:38 PM

The business names and rankings from lotteries for 334 legal marijuana retail licenses were released by the state Liquor Control Board on Friday, but applicants with a high score still have other requirements they must fulfill if they are to receive the coveted documents required to open their shops this summer.

The list of 1,174 was posted after the 75 lotteries that were held April 21-25. A favorable rank in the lottery doesn't guarantee a license.

MORE: List from Washington Liquor Control Board (Click 'Marijuana Lottery Results')

At the beginning of this process, applicants had to pass an initial screening just to get into the lottery. The winners are now subject to additional screenings, including criminal background checks and financial scrutiny. Business plans will have to be approved and the shop itself must pass a final inspection before it can open for business.

It is a complicated process and the Liquor Control Board says that is intentional. The board says it wants to be very careful.

The lotteries were double-blind to ensure security, and the board itself played no role in picking winners.

Instead, it supplied the list of prescreened applicants to Kraght-Snell, a Seattle firm that serves as the accountant for the Washington Lottery. That firm randomly assigned numbers to each applicant, and sent those numbers, without any identifying information, to Washington State University's Social and Economic Sciences Research Center.

The center randomly ordered the numbers provided by the firm, then sent those rankings back to Kraght-Snell to decode them. The lotteries were witnessed by the state treasurer's office.

But there are plenty of losers who feel the process wasn't fair. Scott Zanotelli's application for a Puyallup pot shot was disqualified for being too close to a restricted entity, like a school or park.

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

"We are confident in our process. We double-checked everyone that we said no to," said Alan Rathbun with the Liquor Control Board.

Losers in the lottery now have the opportunity to appeal. Zanotelli is considering a lawsuit, as are several others who were disqualified in the lottery. 

"The time we've invested, the money we've invested is going out the window. And it's too bad if they made a mistake."

The Liquor Control Board expects to begin issuing licenses in July.

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