Washington's marijuana industry has seen a lot of changes lately. For a very long time Washington has had medical marijuana dispensaries that have served patients. These dispensaries operated in a legal grey area, which is not uncommon in states that have medical marijuana programs, but don't/didn't have a state dispensary licensing system. My home state, Oregon, was like that for a very long time. It led to a lot of issues and the harassment of dispensary owners.
Washington recently passed legislation that seeks to bring the medical marijuana and recreational marijuana industries under one umbrella. This is resulting in a lot of dispensaries either being forced to move or shutdown. All of them have to apply for licenses if they want to keep serving patients legally. I'm not a fan of merging the two programs. Colorado has a similar 'one umbrella' system, while Oregon does not. The new licensing requirements in Washington has resulted in a surge of applications. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has so far received nearly 1,000 applications from businesses seeking a new cannabis retail license.
The official tally is 962 applications, according to the Olympian. And that's only for storefronts that want to sell either medical or recreational cannabis (or both), and it doesn't include companies that want to get into growing or manufacturing infused products.
Simultaneously, at least 118 recreational cannabis stores that already have licenses applied for MMJ legal status to serve patients as well as rec customers.
Not everyone that applies for a license will get one I'm assuming, but there hasn't been any confirmation as to how many licenses are up for grabs. I really hope that this doesn't result in price spikes for patients. I don't like price gouging for marijuana regardless if it's medical or recreational, but I especially don't like it when it involves patients. Patients need safe access to their medicine, and they need to be able to afford it. We will see how the 'new era' of medical marijuana sales go in Washington, and will have to wait and see how it compares to how it was in the past.