Entrepreneurs selling marijuana store licenses for big bucks
BREMERTON, Wash. -- Dave Comeau of Bremerton had to call someone after he got an email last week that let him know he won the opportunity to pursue one of two retail marijuana licenses assigned to the city of Bremerton.
"I wasn't sure how to read it," Comeau said.
When the person told him he should start celebrating because he won, he did.
"My heart started beating, it's like now ok, now I got to set up shop, I got to start doing everything," he said.
The state set a limit of 334 licensees to sell recreational marijuana spread through 75 areas in the state. There were more than 1,100 applications the state deemed eligable for the chance at a license before the lottery began.
Twenty-eight of those areas had more applicants that licenses available. Clearly, luck was on Comeau's side. He had three applications for a license in Bremerton. He spent three months scouting for locations that met the criteria set by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. One of those was a small vacant storefront on Scott Avenue, and got the landlord to sign a memorandum of intent.
But now reality has set in.
"We just came to the realization that somebody else could do a way better job than we could do, that had more financing, more connections," Comeau said.
So he sold his business to Pete O'Neil, the managing partner of C&C Cannabis Shops, one of many entrepreneurs working the phones in an effort to find sellers like Comeau who want to part with their valuable lottery selection.
"Somebody, we don't know who, but somebody is going to become the Starbucks of cannabis," said O'Neil, who with his partners hopes to reach the current maximum limit set by the state of three licensed shops.
If Craigslist is any indication, there are at least five listings in Western Washington of people claiming the rights to a winning lottery selection, and they are looking to sell. One Mt. Vernon man said he would part with his license for $1 million. In an email to KOMO News, he says he's legitimate.
"We believe in the industry, and we are taking a big bet on Bremerton and the other stores we are buying," O'Neil said.
Comeau is happy with his deal. He sold his business with it's chance for the licensee for $150,000 and 10 percent of the net revenue or a minimum of $10,000 a month in perpetuity. Not bad considering he spent only $250 to apply for the license.
"I really hit the lottery, really hit the jackpot," Comeau said with a laugh.