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Washington's pot license lottery gets underway

Washington state is holding a lottery this week to select more than 300 licensees across the state to run recreational marijuana shops.

In places like Spokane eight recreational pot stores are allowed but 108 people applied to run those stores, so the state is holding a city-by-city lottery to see who gets the licenses.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board started the lottery Monday and it runs through the end of the week.

It's double-blind, which means absolute anonymity for the applicants so no one gets special treatment.

The people applying still have to pass a background check, financial investigation and other requirements before any licenses are issued.

Although we won't know who gets a license for a few weeks it's an exciting time for the applicants, like Dan Magadanz, who manages "The Peaceful Choice," a local medical marijuana dispensary.

"The second recreational market in the United States is opening and nobody has anything right now. We're standing in a position where we're really excited to be one of the people that help this industry move into legitimate business," Magadanz said.

Report shows high rate of tobacco sales to WA minors

Report shows high rate of tobacco sales to WA minors

The number of retailers in Washington that illegally sell tobacco to minors is high for the second year in a row. An annual report that tracks illegal sales shows about 15% of tobacco retailers sold tobacco to minors in 2013, which is about the same as it was in 2012. As recently as 2009, the rate was much lower, at about 9%.

Inslee poised to sign legislation restricting teens from tanning salons

Inslee poised to sign legislation restricting teens from tanning salons

Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign a bill that will make Washington State the sixth in the country that would prevent minors from using tanning beds, which has owners of local tanning salons, who rely on teen business, concerned.

Cindy Herring owns Jamaica Me Tan in Spokane Valley. Many of her clients are high school students and this legislation would stop most of them from tanning altogether.

"It's going to be difficult," she said.

Herring said she understands the health concerns but says educating young people is better than an all-out ban and that a better solution would be to regulate tanning for minors.

"Many other states have addressed, okay we need to have the signatures of children who are under 18 tanning and I agree with that, that's not going to hurt our business. It's going to let mom know that we're safe, it's going to let mom know the rules, the teenager know the rules, and that's the best thing you can do. Through education it's about safe tanning not risky tanning," she explained.

Proposed bill could mean headache for medical marijuana dispensaries and patients

The business of medical marijuana has largely gone unregulated. Soon, that could all change.

A new bill passed by the Washington Senate on Saturday (SB5887) lays out how medical pot shops will work in the new system. Dispensaries will have the same guidelines as recreational marijuana stores, so medical stores will have to apply for a license. Five percent of stores would be allowed to stay only medical. If they don't, owners will have to shut down by September 2015.

"A whole lot of people are thinking medical cannabis is going to go away, it isn't. It isn't what the state is looking for," said Paul Lugo, who owns the medical marijuana dispensary The Herbal Connection near the Garland District.

Lugo plans to apply for a license to keep his medical marijuana dreams alive, and says he's for some state oversight.

"We've got to be able to sit back and say, 'ok, even though we don't personally agree with this, or whatever, it may be best for the industry. We can't go completely unregulated," Lugo said.

Consumers could see higher liquor prices at restaurants, bars

Consumers could see higher liquor prices at restaurants, bars

The price of alcohol could be going up again, this time in restaurants and bars, the latest change as a result of the privatization of liquor sales in Washington.

This is a going to be a new problem for consumers, but it's one that local businesses have been dealing with for some time.

Come April, customers will be paying up to 15-percent more for alcoholic beverages at restaurants if the Washington State Liquor Control Board moves forward with making restaurants and bars pay the same tax that independent liquor stores are required to dish out.

While this may be another headache for consumers, it's been a problem for independent liquor stores much longer.

Greenacres Liquor Store on East Appleway has been in business for nearly 30 years, but business is not the same as it was before privatization went into effect in 2011. Owner Keith Peterson said before privatization his store was the distribution site for 50 restaurants in the area; after privatization he's down to six.

He said the fallout is due to restaurants going straight to the main distributor to avoid higher prices from independent stores required to pay the tax.

State pot revenue projections lower than anticipated

State pot revenue projections lower than anticipated

The long-standing question of how much the state can make off of marijuana has been answered and it's much lower than many expected.

Voters were originally told before the election once shops started selling pot the state could make up $1.9 Billion in tax revenue over five years. But now that number is expected to be much lower.

Last year, the Washington State Liquor Control Board hired a marijuana consultant to let us know what to expect and how many people might buy legal weed. In the consultant's thorough report the amount of projected revenue dropped.

The Washington Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released new estimates this week. Instead of $1.9 Billion over five years they say Washington could rake in $586 Million over four years. That money will come from excise, B&O and sales taxes as well as fees.

Most of the money is distributed to programs like drug rehab centers, research on the drug's affect on the state and the liquor control board for regulation.

How Colorado residents are coping with legal weed

How Colorado residents are coping with legal weed

From marijuana retail outlets to the Denver Police Department to businesses that are shifting their strategies to take advantage of pot tourism, Colorado's laws on recreational marijuana show what could happen in Washington later this year. But what do Colorado residents think of recreational marijuana?

We took to the streets to find out what people in Colorado are seeing in this land of legal weed, which is the fastest selling product since Denver Broncos gear.

But as look around not everyone is stoned and the air isn't filled with puffs of intoxicating smoke.

"I'd say before our neighbors would smoke sometimes in the yard and that's about the same," Erin Jaramillo said.

To get a better view of what these people say our lives might look like, there's no place in Denver to get a pulse of their concerns than to stop by the appropriately named Washington Park.

"A big change from before and then the medical marijuana so I have to say that was a difference," Jaramillo said.