Next year at this time, 11 state-licensed retail stores could be selling marijuana in Thurston County.
Just two stores could locate in Olympia, two in Lacey and one in Tumwater. The other six would have to find somewhere else to go, either unincorporated areas or smaller towns and cities.
That's what's allowed locally under rules the state Liquor Control Board proposed Wednesday (rules here, summaries here, here and here) and expects to be open by June 1, a plan that has new significance after the U.S. Department of Justice's decision last week to let voter-approved legalization go forward in Washington as long as it's kept closely regulated.
"We are making history," board Chairwoman Sharon Foster said. "This hasn't been done in this way any place in the entire world."
It's the board's third draft of rules but the first to set limits on stores and grow operations.
The privately run stores would be distributed around the state in roughly the same numbers and proportions as state-run liquor stores were before voters privatized them in 2011. The board plans to allow 334 stores statewide, with 61 in King County alone.
Up to 2 million square feet of growing space would be allowed around the state, to harvest no more than 40 metric tons of pot.
That's enough for every adult in Washington state to consume about 7 1/2 grams of the drug a year -- a fraction of what state officials think they already use illegally or through the quasi-legal medical-marijuana market.
They expect the legal market to capture just 13 percent of the total market at first, and 25 percent by the end of the first year. But they expect that to grow, and production limits would likely grow with it.