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Originally published May 2, 2014 at 9:14 PM | Page modified May 2, 2014 at 11:49 PM

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Who won the pot-shop jackpot, and where the stores might be

The Sodo neighborhood is likely Seattle’s hot spot for recreational-pot stores, based on the results of a state lottery for coveted retail licenses. Ballard and Aurora Avenue North were not far behind in lottery winners.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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The first recreational-marijuana stores to open in Seattle likely will be in Sodo, Ballard and on Aurora Avenue North, based on lottery results released Friday by the state Liquor Control Board.

The state allocated 21 stores for Seattle, where 191 applicants got through initial screening to qualify for the lottery.

Applicants who drew the valuable first 21 numbers will have the best chance to open stores.

“It’s exciting,” said Zach Peterson, whose application for a store on Northwest Market Street in Ballard was drawn fourth.

Peterson, owner of Dante’s nightclub in the University District, said it was logical for him to progress from a liquor-serving establishment to a pot store. The state’s legal-pot law regulates marijuana similarly to alcohol.

But in an indication that not all lottery winners will rush to open stores, Peterson said he was in no hurry to compete with medical-marijuana dispensaries. He wants to see what kind of competition surfaces from nearby recreational shops, and he wants to know if he can relocate to another location in Seattle.

Applicants can change locations within the same city, said attorney Robert McVay, who specializes in advising pot entrepreneurs. Changes in lottery-winning locations might also occur if state officials made mistakes in the screening process.

State officials expect to start issuing store licenses by early July. Some experts believe there will be a scarce supply of weed when the first stores open, as the state has only licensed 21 growers to date.

A lottery was necessary because the state had 1,174 applicants who made it through initial screening vying for 334 stores; 75 jurisdictions required a lottery and 47 did not.

The lottery results don’t guarantee anyone a retail license and store yet.

Applicants still must have their operations and financial plans approved and must pass criminal background checks.

Then they have to build out their stores and pass final inspection before getting licensed.

If an applicant fails to qualify, the state would move down its lottery list and give the opportunity to the 22nd name drawn, and so on.

Sodo is the front-runner to become Seattle’s retail hot spot with eight applicants in the top 21. Ballard has five, and applicants on or near Aurora Avenue North hold three of the top spots.

No lottery winners were on Rainier Avenue South, which has been a popular spot for medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Among the top applicants, the closest location to Capitol Hill is Mello Times, near 24th Avenue and East Union Street in the Central Area.

Three applicants nearby fell just outside the top 21, with spots 32, 34 and 35 in the lottery.

If two lottery-winning applicants are vying for the same address, whoever secures a lease will get the location and the other will have to find a new place within the city.

The Liquor Control Board (LCB) will grant a specific amount of time, not yet undetermined, for such applicants to find a new location.

The first applicant drawn in Seattle was Trichome & Calyx at 3809 Delridge Way SW; the second was GG Gourmet Enterprises at 9550 Aurora Ave. N.; and Nectar Gardens at 4919 17th Ave. NW was drawn third.

Diego Pellicer, the company co-founded by former Microsoft manager Jamen Shively, was drawn in Seattle’s final lottery spot for a planned store in Sodo.

“We would like to open as soon as possible,” Shively said.

Elsewhere in King County, Bellevue was allotted more stores — four — than any city but Seattle. Two lottery winners have proposed downtown stores and two are close to the Bel-Red corridor.

Federal Way, Kent and Renton were each allotted three stores. But Kent and Federal Way have moratoriums in place that now block legal-pot stores from opening within their borders.

In unincorporated King County, the state allotted 11 stores. Four of the 11 lottery winners were located just south of Seattle city limits. The others were scattered near Algona, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Shoreline and on Vashon Island.

North Bonneville in Skamania County was the only city that sought to own a pot store within its borders.

North Bonneville officials figured the little city on the Columbia River was going to get a pot store and they reasoned they would have more control, and collect more revenue, if the city owned it.

But North Bonneville might be a case in which the Liquor Control Board needs to fix a mistake.

Mayor Don Stevens said the city received notice from the board that its store was disqualified because it was within 1,000 feet of a venue frequented by youth — in this case, a park.

But on closer inspection, Stevens realized the venue in question was not a public park — which would be prohibited — but a private RV Park.

He believes that’s a state mistake that should be rectified. But it’s not clear how.

Because the state counted just two qualified applicants for Skamania County’s two stores, it did not hold a lottery for the county. Adding North Bonneville’s store to the mix would mean three proposed stores vying for two spots, requiring a lottery.

A spokesman for the LCB said the board is consulting with state lawyers. “In the event that we find out we excluded someone wrongfully, we will own it,” Carpenter said, thought he believes there will be very few mistakenly excluded.

“The Board has flexibility to provide relief” for North Bonneville, he said, “but it’s too early to say what that remedy might be at this time.”

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or byoung@seattletimes.com

On Twitter: @potreporter



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