Washington Bill Would Create New Social Equity Cannabis Licenses

March 20, 2023 ·

A bill proposed in Washington state would add about 100 retail adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses which would be set aside for social equity applicants, KING 5 reports. The measure is backed by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) which recently reported that 92% of cannabis license holders in the state are White and just 4% of retail cannabis licenses went to Black applicants.  

The measure is sponsored by State Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D) who told KING 5 that the state’s cannabis program “really set it up so that the people that can participate were people that had deep pockets or access to a lot of money” and that officials weren’t going to add any new licenses until they “looked at social equity.”  

Under the measure, the licenses could be used in any Washington city or county that allows adult-use cannabis sales. The new licenses could be used for retail sales or retail cultivation. 

Even without the passage of the bill, social equity applicants will get priority for about 40 licenses that remain unused or were revoked by the LCB under guidance issued by the agency last year. However, many of those license are in jurisdictions that do not allow adult-use sales within their borders, the report says. The LCB also changed the scoring rubric for cannabis license candidates, giving more weight to applicants with prior drug arrests, or those who previously owned a medical cannabis dispensary. 

On March 1, the LCB opened a 30-day window for social equity applicants to submit their applications for unused or revoked licenses.  (Full Story)

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