A Brief Overview of Washington’s Recreational Cannabis Structure [I-502]

A Brief Overview of Washington’s Recreational Cannabis Structure

Washington’s recreational marijuana industry has seen many successes since it began in 2012. Four years down the road, let’s take a moment to review how the structure of the I-502 industry is set up.

There are three different types of marijuana licensees: producers, processors and retailers. Home-growing for personal use is not allowed in Washington.


Marijuana producers grow marijuana for wholesale. Producers can sell to marijuana processors or other producers. Producer licensees are broken down into three tiers based on how much marijuana the business intends to grow.

Tier 1 – allows for 2,000 square feet or less of dedicated plant canopy.

Tier 2- allows for between 2,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet of dedicated plant canopy.

Tier 3 – allows for between 10,000 square feet and 30,000 square feet of dedicated plant canopy.


Marijuana processors prepare marijuana for sale to the public. They process, package and label marijuana and marijuana products for wholesale to marijuana retailers.

Having all three licenses is not allowed, but having both a producer and a processor license is. Many producers choose to acquire their own processing license to prepare the whole package exactly the way they want to and to reduce cost.

Processors are also allowed to blend marijuana from multiple lots into a single package. The weed has to be tested, useable and labeled by percentage of each strain. We’ve never seen a mixed pack in a store so far, but the idea of a goodie bag full of surprise top quality strains excites us for the future.


Retailers are the pot shops we know and love. They can sell marijuana, marijuana concentrates, marijuana infused products and marijuana paraphernalia.

Retail locations are limited to sites at least 1,000 feet away from elementary or secondary schools, playgrounds, recreation centers, child care centers, public parks, public transit centers, libraries or arcades which allows minors to enter. A recent change in the law allows local governments to allow the 1,000 foot buffer to be reduced to 100 feet around all areas except public playgrounds, elementary and secondary schools.

Internet sales were never allowed under I-502.

Businesses are limited to three retail licenses. Each pot shop the business wants to open requires a separate license. This means the size of each marijuana retail business is some what limited which encourages competition between retailers.

Pot shops provide the friendly support and expertise to get you to whatever dimension you want to be in. Check out these ones we love!

The structure of Washington’s recreational cannabis industry is one of the main reasons the industry has seen success. Although many people would like to change bits and pieces of the law, it is a good place to start. This also encourages conversation and debate on how to make the industry even better. By reviewing what the facts are now, we can look forward to a long bright green future of happy people, successful business and toking it up late into the night.

Photo: Toke Tank

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