OLYMPIA — Officials have processed more than 6,600 marijuana business license applications in Washington state, including 291 in Clark County, and they still have more to go.
The state Liquor Control Board issued updated figures Tuesday for applications to grow, process and sell pot under Washington's legal marijuana law, passed by voters in 2012. The total so far: 6,619.
Some 2,666 of those are growing license applications, and 1,918 are processing applications. In Clark County, there are 36 applications to grow pot and 99 have applied to process it so far
The board at least initially is limiting the number of stores to 334 statewide, including 15 in Clark County. There have been 2,035 retail applications received by the state, with 156 retail applicants from Clark County. This means there could be lotteries to decide which applicants will become licensed stores, where adults older than 21 will be able to buy up to an ounce of marijuana under Initiative 502.
A few potential Clark County pot businesses submitted multiple applications to sell marijuana from more than one site.
Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter says some incomplete applications are still being processed by the state and that officials are working with those applicants.
"The ones we have left are people who have not supplied all of the information necessary," he said.
Carpenter said the board expects to begin issuing licenses in late February or March, at which point it will be up to the newly legalized industry to provide supply for the private pot market and open retail stores.
The one-month window for submitting applications closed Dec. 20.
Meanwhile, legal pot sellers in Colorado said supplies were already dwindling under heavy demand since that state's marijuana retailers opened on Jan. 1. Like Washington voters, those in Colorado also legalized pot sales in November 2012. But unlike Washington, Colorado's initiative had a firm Jan. 1 start date for sales, Carpenter said.
"They (Colorado) had a sophisticated medical marijuana system that they essentially converted," he said. "Washington did not have that."
Local jurisdictions, including Vancouver, unincorporated Clark County, Washougal, Camas and Ridgefield, have placed temporary moratoriums on the sale of recreational marijuana.
Leaders of the communities have said too many unanswered legal questions remain about compliance with federal drug law, which lists the marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic.
Columbian staff writer Cami Joner contributed to this story.