How do I get licensed for a cannabis business in Washington?
Getting a marijuana business license in Washington requires time and effort. Specifically, there are five different categories of commercial licensing for marijuana businesses in the state of Washington.
- Producer license: There are three tiers of marijuana producers, each with their own type of license requirements.
- Processor license: This license allows business owners to dry, cure, prepare, and sell marijuana to licenses cannabis retailers in the state of Washington.
- Retailer license: This license allows business owners to sell marijuana and cannabis-based products to legal residents 21 years or older.
- Transportation license: This license allows the physical transportation of marijuana within the state of Washinton.
- Marijuana Research: This license enables scientists, medical professionals, and other researchers to research cannabis through the guidelines provided in RCW 69.50.372. Medical marijuana and marijuana that is used for medical purposes or research is generally looked at differently than recreational marijuana. Whereas it may be more difficult for a marijuana business to receive a cannabis business loan if the loan is going to be used for a recreational marijuana enterprise, cannabis companies and others in the marijuana industry are closely scrutinized by the United States government.
Note that operators in WA cannot be fully vertically integrated, meaning you cannot hold a retailer license while also holding a producer or processor license.
The Liquor and Cannabis Board in Washington also offers additional certifications called endorsements that provide special privileges to certain cannabis businesses. These include:
Medical endorsement: Allows cannabis retailers to sell marijuana for medical use to qualifying patients and designated providers, and allows businesses to provide marijuana at no cost to qualifying patients and providers
Marijuana-Infused Edibles Processor endorsement: Allows licensees to commercially produce wholesale food items infused with marijuana, marijuana extracts, or marijuana concentrates
Marijuana Research endorsement: Allows the licensee to produce, process, or possess marijuana in order to conduct scientific research on marijuana and marijuana-derived products
Marijuana Transportation endorsement: Allows the licensee to physically transport or deliver marijuana, marijuana concentrates, and marijuana-infused products between licensed marijuana businesses in Washington State
The state of Washington has some restrictions on which businesses are allowed to receive a cannabis license; these include:
- Residency Requirements: Those interested in opening a cannabis business in Washington must be able to prove they have lived in the state for at least six months.
- Criminal background checks. Washington has a somewhat unique criminal background check system. If you receive eight or more “points” on this system, your business cannot be granted a cannabis license.
- True Parties of Interest: Under Washington state laws, all “True Parties of Interest” in your cannabis business must be submitted and evaluated by the state.