By Colette Thomas
It has been nearly a since the original I-502 retail applications were submitted in Washington. It has been a long road with one struggle after another. Each step completed was so empowering, like you had just conquered the world. For those of you nearing final inspection, it will be one of your proudest moments thus far. The last step is a smooth and successful grand opening. After that, you are simply running a legitimate retail store.
Surveillance system: This is where most of the attention will be placed during your final inspection. Be sure that your cameras have a minimum resolution of 640×470 pixels and are Internet protocol (IP) compatible. All of your recorded images must display the time and date pursuant to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. There must be 20 feet of coverage at all points of ingress/egress on the exterior. Every individual on the premises must be easily identifiable through your system without any blind spots. The storage device must be bolted down and locked. If possible, we always like to have a representative from the surveillance installation company present during final inspection. In the event that the agent requires another camera, it can be installed before the inspection is over.
Display of identification: All employees are required to wear identification badges while on the premises. Many retailers have outsourced for badges, but we make them ourselves. If you own your own laminator (a $20 investment), it’s simple. Purchase sleeves, clips and lanyards and you will not spend more than $20 for a dozen badges.
Alarm system: The alarm system must have sensors on all perimeter entry points and windows. We recommend adding motion detectors and having hold-up and panic buttons. When a delivery is in process, the employee accepting it has a panic button on their person.
Quarantine area: Your surveillance storage device can be bolted into a cabinet that can also serve as your quarantine area. Typically, this will house your sample containers from processors that need to be returned back to them. Many think this will be used for damaged packages, returns, etc. A licensed store should never have open marijuana packages on the premises. To avoid this, we recommend that you do not accept damaged or open packages from a processor, or take returns from customers.
Transport vehicle: If you choose to have a delivery vehicle inspected to pick up product from processors, make sure the storage compartment is secured to the inside body of the vehicle. Additional padlocks on the exterior of the box are recommended.
Operation floor plans: The floor plan submitted to the Washington State Liquor Control Board should mirror your store layout and should be free of living quarters. Joint businesses in your retail store are not allowed and all cameras must be placed according to the original floor plan.
Allowable products: You are only allowed to sell marijuana, marijuana-infused products and paraphernalia. The Liquor Control Board agent will confirm that any products outside of the above are not on the premises.
Insurance requirements: A copy of your certificate of commercial general liability insurance, which must be a minimum of $1 million, and names the Liquor Control Board as an additional insured.
Required signage: The following signs are extremely important and we have found that the Liquor Control Board inspectors are happy with more than the minimum requirements. 1. No opening package or consumption of marijuana in public. 2. Persons under twenty-one years of age not permitted on theses premises. 3. No firearms permitted on these premises. 4. Master business license. We post the first three on the front window, inside on the sales floor and behind the sales counter. The signs can be printed off from the Liquor Control Board website and then framed or laminated.
Advertising, trade name and hours of operation: You are allowed one sign on the building that shall not exceed 1,600 square inches. Your sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products must not be visible by the public. The allowed hours of operation are between 8 a.m. midnight, and you should have a sign displaying when you will be opened.
After you pass the above requirements, your inspector will do a briefing with you. It consists of an overview of the rules and regulations and to answer any questions you may have. Within approximately 48 hours you will receive an email instructing you to pay your licensing fee to the Liquor Control Board. It usually takes a week to have your license in hand. Even before receiving your license, you should be networking with licensed producers and processors to get an idea who you want to do business with. Once you receive your license, start negotiating with the processors to fill your shelves with product so you can open your doors for business.
Colette Thomas is a partner of Recreational Marijuana Management, which provides consulting services for I-502 retailers on licensing and compliance. RMM has assisted multiple retailers pass final inspection and open for business.