Since legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012, the State of Washington has been at the forefront of the legalization movement. With revenue from marijuana sales reaching into the billions, there seems to be no sign of the cannabis industry slowing down. If you’re looking to cash in on this industry, there are a number of profitable avenues that you could pursue within the legal cannabis realm. First, though, you will need to do your research. You probably have many questions if you are new to the industry. Here are answers to a few of the most common questions concerning marijuana licenses in Washington.

Do I Need A License?

In short, yes, you will need a state issued license if you wish to sell, grow, or process marijuana in Washington. A different license is required if you wish to transport or perform research on marijuana. However, no more licenses are being issued. In order to obtain a license, you must purchase it from a current license holder. The cost varies, depending on the type of license and other market forces. In addition, Washington does not allow owners of retail to also own in producer or processor licenses. There is no vertical integration. You are either a grower/processor or you are a retailer / dispensary owner.

Who Issues Marijuana Licenses?

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) is responsible for issuing cannabis licenses and transferring licenses to new license holders. This board also regulates and enforces the laws surrounding marijuana licensees, so it has the power to suspend or revoke licenses.

Can I Get A Marijuana License If I Have A Criminal Record?

It depends. The WSLCB will look at your criminal record when it processes your application. Criminal offenses are assigned a certain number of points depending on their severity. Felonies, for example, are worth more points than less serious, misdemeanor offenses. The length of time for which the points will remain also varies based on severity. The point system is broken down as follows:

Description Points Assigned How Long Points Remain
Felony conviction 12 points Ten years
Gross misdemeanor conviction 5 points Three years
Misdemeanor conviction 4 points Three years
Currently under federal or state supervision for a felony conviction 8 points N/A
Nondisclosure of any of the above 4 points per offense N/A


The WSLCB typically will not issue a license if you have accumulated 8 or more points. However, it could make exceptions. If you live, or have lived, in an area that historically has been disproportionately impacted by the “war on drugs,” then you may have a better chance of approval even if you have a substantial criminal record.

Do I Have To Be A Resident Of Washington?

Yes. All marijuana license applicants must have resided in Washington State for at least six months prior to applying. If you have formed a partnership, employee cooperative, association, nonprofit corporation, or a limited liability company for which you are seeking licensure, then it must have been formed in Washington. All members of your business must meet the six-month residency requirement. Also, once you are licensed, you must maintain residency in Washington State.

We Can Help

The attorneys at Cultiva Law have substantial experience in the legal cannabis market. Through our expertise, we can provide you with sound guidance relating to your cannabis business. We a focused on assisting businesses in all phases of formation, and are ready to assist with your needs. Call (888) 896-3313 or contact us online to consult with a Cultiva Law attorney.

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