Lawmakers feel the current licensing structure doesn’t properly address social equity
Social equity has become a very important factor in those jurisdictions seeking to redress many of the past problems stemming from the war on drugs. Washington and its cannabis market appear to be focusing on this issue, recently announcing the creation of 100 marijuana licenses for social equity applicants. The move follows changes regulators implemented in 2022 to the state’s social equity program.
A new bill that would develop additional marijuana licenses for social equity applicants is currently being considered by Evergreen State lawmakers. The news comes after regulators last year inserted some changes aimed at bringing more minority-owned businesses into the local industry.
Senator Rebecca Saldaña is the sponsor of Senate Bill 5080. Through this effort, she seeks to create at least 100 additional licenses for social equity applicants to have the opportunity to engage in the business of growing and selling marijuana.
“[The Washington 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,” Saldaña said, according to a KING 5 report. “And so, what we said is we weren’t going to do any more new licenses until we looked at social equity.”
According to the media outlet, over 90% of marijuana licensees are currently white. Only 4% of those marijuana dispensary licenses have been granted to black owners. Washington wants to change the landscape and implement a plan to end 2023 with much more equitable numbers.