Does Washington Require a License to Distribute Marijuana and Marijuana Products?
Yes. Per the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.310(1), businesses interested in distributing marijuana must obtain transportation licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. Transportation licensees are not permitted to cultivate, manufacture, or retail marijuana in Washington.
What Distribution Activities are Covered by Washington Marijuana Distribution License?
Per the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55-310(1), marijuana transportation licensees can distribute cannabis, cannabis concentrates, and cannabis-infused products between licensed businesses. Also, licensed marijuana transportation facilities in Washington offer storage services. However, they can only store products for a limited time.
The Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 310(5)(e) stipulates that vehicles transporting cannabis and cannabis products must deliver them within 48 hours or return them to the shipper. Hence, marijuana distribution vehicles must be fitted with secure storage compartments and have provisions for storing marijuana and marijuana products during transportation.
Does Washington Offer Transport-Only Distributor License?
No. Washington does not offer transport-only distributor licenses to cannabis businesses. Before introducing cannabis transportation licenses in the state, licensed producers, retailers, and processors transported their cannabis products on their own between licensed marijuana facilities. However, marijuana transportation within the state is now the exclusive responsibility of licensed cannabis transportation facilities.
How to Get Marijuana Distribution License in Washington
Unlike its Producer, Processor, and Retailer licenses, Washington does not have an open window for accepting Cannabis Transportation license applications. Therefore, interested parties can apply for this license at any time.
Per the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.310, a cannabis transportation license applicant must be at least 21 years old. Prospective cannabis transporters must submit the following:
- Personal information (name, birth date, and address) of all true parties of interest in the proposed business. According to the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.035, true parties of interest constitute all partners (general and limited), directors, stakeholders, and managers of the business. If the business entity is a sole proprietorship, the sole proprietor is the party of interest.
- A lease or sale agreement in the applicant's name showing that they have the right to the property where the transportation facility will be situated
- Information on facility fund sources
- Current Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) permits - Applicants must present copies of their valid UTC common carrier approvals. Applicants must also obtain UTC common carrier permits for all the vehicles their facilities will use for transporting cannabis and cannabis-infused products.
- Business entity registration documents - An applicant must provide documentation showing that their business type (corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or limited liability company) is registered.
- Proof of right to the cannabis transportation facility vehicles. Applicants can submit car titles, registration documents, or lease agreements as proof.
- Confirmation that the applicant is familiar with the state's cannabis laws
- Tax payment records - Transportation license applicants must be current in their tax obligations to the Washington Department of Revenue and other government agencies, as stipulated in Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.020(15).
- Certificate of insurance - Per the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55-310(2)(e)(i), applicants must have commercial general liability insurance against property damage and bodily injuries (or death) arising from licensed activities. The liability insurance must be at least $1 million. All insurance policies must follow the Revised Code of Washington Title 48 Chapter 15 and the Washington Administrative Code Title 284 Chapter 15.
- Workers benefits and compensation data - According to the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.020(14)(b) marijuana license applicants must state if they will:
- Provide health insurance coverage for at least 85% of their hourly employees
- Pay at least 150% of Washington's minimum wage to at least 85% of their hourly employees
- Provide a pension benefit plan for at least 85% of their hourly workers
- Give at least five paid sick days to at least 85% of their hourly workers annually
- Also, applicants must state if they have signed collective bargaining agreements or labor peace contracts with labor organizations.
- License application fee as provided in the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.310(1). Checks are payable to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
- Operating plan - This should include a detailed site plan illustrating the proposed facility's entire operations.
- Proof of residence in Washington - According to the Revised Code of Washington 69 Chapter 50.331(1)(b)(ii), cannabis transportation license applicants and all interested parties must have resided in the state for at least six months before applying.
- Local government approval - The Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.020(1) stipulates that marijuana transportation license applicants must obtain local approval from the counties or cities they intend to establish their businesses. The Revised Code of Washington 69.50.331(8)(a) prohibits cannabis transportation facilities within 1,000 feet of public parks, transit centers, libraries, child care centers, recreation centers, playgrounds, elementary schools, or game centers that serve persons below 21 years. \
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board advises prospective applicants to research their proposed facility locations before applying. Interested persons can contact the Board via email and provide their proposed business addresses to confirm suitability.
- Criminal history information - Applicants and all true parties of interest in a cannabis transportation business must submit their complete sets of fingerprints to a Liquor and Cannabis Board-approved vendor as prerequisites for criminal records checks. The Board submits applicants' fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Washington State Patrol to check their criminal records. Applicants are responsible for paying any fees required by the FBI or the Washington State Patrol for the background checks.
After conducting a criminality background check on an applicant, the Liquor and Cannabis Board reviews their qualification for license using a point system. Applicants with felony convictions within the ten years preceding their application dates are assigned 12 points based on the system. Additionally, the system assigns 5 points and 4 points to applicants with gross misdemeanor and minor misdemeanor convictions, respectively. Applicants who are under state or federal supervision for felony convictions are given 8 points. If an applicant withholds any aspect of their criminal history, they will be assigned additional 4 points. Generally, the Board will not issue transportation licenses to applicants who have accumulated up to 8 points.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board requires prospective cannabis business owners to assume licenses from existing businesses. License applicants should complete the marijuana license addendum and business license application form (form 700 028) and send them via mail with required documents to:
Business Licensing Service
P.O. Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
Typically, the Department processes online applications within 10 business days, while paper applications are processed within two to three weeks.
After submission, the Liquor and Cannabis Board may inspect the facility before issuing a transportation license. Per the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.301(6), any vehicle used in delivering cannabis is considered part of a cannabis transportation business premises. Therefore, the facility's vehicles are subject to inspection by the Board. In line with the Washington Administrative Code 314-55-020(3), an applicant must display a signage outside their premises notifying the public that the premises will accommodate a cannabis transportation facility. The signage must be in place within seven days of application. Successful applicants must pay their license issuance fees before obtaining their transportation licenses.
If the Board denies an application, the applicant can accept the resolution and re-apply. Alternatively, they can ask for an administrative hearing. Washington residents can contact the Liquor and Cannabis Board for cannabis license-related inquiries at (1) 360 664-1600 or via email.
How Much Does Marijuana Distribution License Cost in Washington?
According to the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55.310, the cost of obtaining cannabis transportation licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board are:
- $250 non-refundable license application fee
- $1,300 non-refundable license issuance fee
- $1,300 non-refundable annual renewal fee
Can Licensed Marijuana Distributors Also Get Other Cannabis Licenses in Washington?
No. The provisions of the Washington Administrative Code Title 314 Chapter 55 do not authorize licensed cannabis transporters to obtain other types of cannabis business licenses.