Bellevue entrepreneurs fighting to open marijuana store

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Chris McAboy and Allie Charneski say they're ready to sign a lease and open up their Bellevue pot shop.

The only problem is they're now in a bitter fight with the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which could keep them from opening the store.

"It's frustrating that now when we're moments away from signing a lease, that after we won the lottery, after we put all this in, all of a sudden the rules are changing and that's the frustrating part," Charneski said.

McAboy received notice that they had won one of four highly sought after marijuana retail licenses in Bellevue. They invested tens of thousands of dollars to get to that point. But, now the state is telling them their proposed shop is within a thousand feet of a recreation center, which would be a violation of state law.

The building in question is occupied by the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. Employees inside the building say it's a retail shop and an administration building with some meeting space. They said it is not a recreation center.

"I want them to recognize the building for what it actually is -- an administrative office and a retail store," McAboy said.

Charneski is equally frustrated with the way the situation is playing out.

"If it was a rec center and we missed it it would be a little bit easier to swallow and to throw in the towel and say we gave it our best shot and that's all we could do. But it's not a rec center," she said.

Their fear now is that their application will be disqualified and the next person in line will take their spot while they appeal. Then they'll be out of luck.

"I think that it's a disaster," Charneski said. "I think that it's disaster, but for us it's not too late."

The State Liquor Control Board said it doesn't typically discuss an applicant's ongoing protest.