Washington Gov. Signs Cannabis Social Equity Bill

Washington’s new cannabis social equity provisions, which will offer grant funding and expert advice for qualifying individuals, were signed into law on Monday.

Full story after the jump.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill on Monday to help more people of color open cannabis businesses in the state, King 5 News reports.

HB 1443 was requested by the state’s Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force (SECTF) and will offer grant funding and expert advice for individuals who have been convicted of a cannabis crime and/or live in an area disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

According to the bill report, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will draw on a pool of licenses subject to forfeiture, revocation, or cancellation. Licenses that were never issued — but when issued will not exceed the license limit prior to January 2020 — will be up for grabs for qualifying social equity applicants. Additionally, the bill extends the final reporting dates of the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force until December 9, 2022. The program is set to expire on July 1, 2028.

“It’s a down payment on what the state of Washington owes its Black residents. We’re doing things to make those wrongs, right.” — Task Force Chair Paula Sardinas, via King 5 News

In Washington state, WSLCB data found that 82% of cannabis licensees who identified their race indicated they were a “non-minority;” that same data revealed that 7% of cannabis business owners identified as Asian, 4% as multiracial, 3% as Black, and only 2% said they were Hispanic

Established in 2020, the SECTF’s work was initially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After three meetings in the fall of 2020, the task force is holding sub-committee meetings to hear from the community and industry stakeholders on topics like the definition of “disproportionately affected areas” and licensing.

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