Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1976 No. 29 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


While the "Business Coordination Act" (chapter 68, Laws of 1975-76, 2nd Ex. Sess.) will apply to grocers seeking licenses issued by the state pharmacy board, it will only apply in the case of those licenses under the board's jurisdiction which are germane to a grocery operation.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   April 23, 1976

Honorable David C. Campbell, Jr.
Executive Secretary
Washington State Board of Pharmacy
319 E. 7th Avenue ‑ WEA Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1976 No. 29

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have directed our attention to chapter 68, Laws of 1975-76, 2nd Ex. Sess. (Senate Bill No. 3271), known as the "Business Coordination Act."  You have asked our opinion regarding the applicability of this law to certain licenses presently issued by the state board of pharmacy.  We respond to your inquiry in the manner set forth in our analysis.


            The basic thrust of chapter 68, supra, is the establishment, as a pilot program, of a "single stop" concept for the issuance of state licenses or permits to persons engaged in the retail grocery business.  Section 3(1) of the act provides that:

            "(1) Any person proposing a new grocery operation after June 30, 1976 shall submit a master application to the department [of commerce and economic development] requesting the issuance of all permits necessary prior to opening a new operation in the state of Washington.  The master application shall be on a form furnished by the department and shall contain in consolidated form all information necessary for the various state agencies to issue a permit.  These provisions shall apply to persons seeking to continue an existing operation after January 1, 1977.

            ". . ."

            The term "permit," as used in this statute, is defined in § 2(2) of the act to include:

            ". . . any license, permit . . . or similar document pertaining toregulation of businesses in general and handling the products  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] normally sold in grocery stores. . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Also to be considered is subsection (4) of this same section which reads as follows:

            "(4) All permits and inspections related to grocery operations by the following state agencies are covered under sections 1 through 8 of this act.

            "(a) Department of Revenue; "(b) Department of Labor and Industries; "(c) Department of Employment Security; "(d) Department of Agriculture; "(e) Department of Fisheries; "(f) Liquor Control Board:  "(g)State Pharmacy Board; "(h) Department of Highways; and "(i) any other state agency, that may now or in the future issue permits or make inspections of grocery operations."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            It is important to note, however, that under the express language of this subsection the only permits or licenses of any of those listed agencies which are subject to the procedures that are provided for by this new law are those which are "related to grocery operations."  Likewise, a similar limiting provision is to be found in the definition of "grocery" which is contained in § 2(4) of chapter 68, supra.  As there defined, "grocery" means:

            ". . . any retail business engaged in the sale of food products (except fully prepared meals), beverages, and common household goods.  Businesses offering other products and services are included but only covered under this act to the extent of the grocery related activities."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Thus, for example, a retail establishment which includes a grocery department and, separately, a pharmacy will only be eligible to utilize the "one stop" approach provided for by § 3(1), supra, in obtaining those licenses, under the jurisdiction of the various agencies listed in § 3(4), supra, that are related to its grocery operation ‑ but not those required for the operation of its pharmacy department.  Our direct answer to your question, then, is as follows:

            While the "Business Coordination Act" (chapter 68, supra) will apply to grocers seeking licenses issued by the state pharmacy board, it will only apply in the case of those licenses under the board's jurisdiction which are germane to  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] a grocery operation; namely, the shopkeeper's license which is provided for by RCW 18.64.040 as opposed, for example, to a license to dispense prophylactics under RCW 18.81.020 and 18.81.035 or controlled substances under chapter 69.50 RCW.

            In so concluding we have not overlooked the directive of § 7 of the act which says that:

            "The rule of strict construction shall have no application to this chapter and it shall be liberally construed in order to carry out its purposes."

            The concept of liberal construction, however, does not require the interpretation of a statute in a way which would ignore the "obvious meaning of the words therein employed."  Public Hosp. Dist. v. Taxpayers, 44 Wn.2d 623, 269 P.2d 594 (1954).  Liberal construction cannot accomplish an end not within the terms of the statute however desirable that result might be.  See, Dept. of Motor Vehicles v. Industrial Accident Commission, 83 Cal.App.2d 671, 189 P.2d 730 (1948).  See, also,First National Bank & Trust Co. of Wyoming v. Brimmer, 504 P.2d 1367 (Wyo. 1973).  Here the permit definition and the statutory references to grocery operations or activities preclude an application of the act to the drug related licenses (with the exception of the shopkeeper's license) even under the standard of liberal construction.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General