NPR Story
5:12 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Even University Mathematicians Have Role In Marijuana Legalization

The path to marijuana legalization in Washington state is keeping a lot of people busy -- even university math professors.

They played a key role in developing the lottery now underway to determine who gets a license to open a pot store.

The security procedures for this marijuana license lottery are elaborate: there’s an independent accounting firm, tamper-proof envelopes and randomly-generated numbers.

Random numbers are used so no one has an unfair advantage in the lottery. These numbers are generated using procedures developed by math professors at Washington State University. The procedures sound like the “two-man rule” for nuclear missile codes: two staff members and two sets of randomly generated digits are combined to make the final lottery number.

Statewide, the ratio between applicants and licenses is more than three-to-one. The lottery winners should be notified starting next week.

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