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BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Changes in state laws have opened the way for a sudden boom in craft distilleries across Washington state.

The Bellingham Herald says 40 craft distillery licenses have been approved by the state since 2008, when the existing license was established. Another 18 licenses are pending.

A spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board says Dry Fly Distilling of Spokane led the way, working with the state to create an industry that could be regulated in terms of small onsite samples and how much can be sold to a single customer.

Other changes are on the way. With the passage of Initiative 1183 privatizing liquor sales, approved Washington craft distillers will be able to sell directly to restaurants starting March 1. By June 1, distillers can have their products on the shelves at approved private stores.

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