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Longview Marijuana Lottery Winners Prepare Businesses For Opening

The General

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Washington State - Todd Bratton may as well have been the number-one NFL Draft pick this weekend. He received the top seeding for something a little more local, though: a retail marijuana store in Longview. And now he's ready to get to work. "There's a whole list of things I need to get organized in the next week," like a business license, signing a lease and figuring out insurance, he said with excitement in his eyes. "It's up to me now to get the job done." The state Liquor Control Board expects to start issuing licenses no later than July 1. In the interim, retail stores are turning their focus to every other aspect of starting a business.

Longview's lottery results were delayed a week by a court hearing but finally released Thursday, to the celebration of the three winners and chagrin of the seven who didn't make the cut. The marijuana retail lottery was held by the state in April for areas where there were more applicants than licenses allowed by the state. Longview City Council set zoning regulations for retail marijuana operations within the city limits in February, which puts it ahead of Cowlitz County and Woodland in terms of progress. It appears unlikely, at least for the time being, that a license will be granted to a retailer in Kelso. That means Longview's top three will probably be the first legal cannabis businesses in the county, and it could all start with Todd Bratton's Cannabis Market (a working title, he said).

Bratton defies the pot-selling stereotype at every turn. The 38-year-old Kelso High School graduate holds bachelor's and master's degrees in public policy from Washington State University/Vancouver; he's a father of three and husband to his business partner, Rachel; and he says he runs 25 to 30 miles a week. "We're not drug dealers; I haven't wanted to be in this business unless it was legitimate," he said. The neighbors of his shop at 1953 Seventh Ave., the Department of Corrections office, can probably help with that. "I appreciate (having) those folks around," Bratton said. "We're going to be a friendly neighbor to everyone."

In November 2012, 53.7 percent of Cowlitz County voted against Initiative 502 legalizing recreational marijuana, with 46.3 percent in favor. And while that may not be an accurate measure of those for or against retail marijuana outlets today, it shows the split among those for and against the more general concept. Pleas against pot from the community made the City Council initially vote down proposed zoning regulations in February, which would have left zoning more open-ended. Bratton is a cannabis advocate, but he emphasized the need to protect children and to ensure at all costs his product doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

"I have young kids, and there is no cannabis around kids, period," he said. Bratton said he wants to work with all of those opposed and try to address their concerns, and he says that probably doesn't mean changing their minds about marijuana. For others, he said first-time users may need some guidance. Legalization was the first step, and now Bratton and others are moving on to legitimization for what he sees as a lucrative business that will support his family. "I'm certainly not going to be some vigilante businessman – I want to take it really slow. And inventory is going to be scarce to begin with," Bratton said. "It's awesome to be a part of something new like this."


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Tdn.com
Author: Brooks Johnson
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Website: Longview marijuana lottery winners prepare businesses for opening
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