Washington lawmakers have approved a bill to implement a social equity program in the state’s cannabis industry, High Times reports. Under the law, which still requires the signature of Gov. Jay Inslee (D), regulators at the Liquor and Cannabis Board would be allowed to award canceled, revoked, or forfeited licenses to applicants from communities most disproportionately impacted by the cannabis enforcement.
Paula Sardinas, of the Commission on African American Affairs, told High Times that while the bill is a good start toward social equity, the state needed to reform the LCB after an independent review of the agency in December found it acted more like law enforcement than a regulatory body and needed a culture change.
Aaron Barfield, an activist with Black Excellence in Cannabis, called the LCB culture “toxic.”
“People are concerned that the LCB will hand them a license with the right hand and claw it back with the left.” – Sardinas to High Times
Under the measure, the social equity licenses carry an application fee of $250 and a $1,480 licensing fee. The bill defines prospective applicants as “individuals who have been arrested or incarcerated due to drug laws, and those who have resided in areas of high poverty, suffer long-lasting adverse consequences, including impacts to employment, business ownership, housing, health, and long term financial well-being.” It also covers “family members, especially children, and communities of those who have been arrested or incarcerated due to drug laws.”
Other specific regulations associated with the bill have not yet been determined.