Washington State’s cannabis social equity bill now law

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Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the measure earlier this week

Minority and cannabis businesses in Washington state have received some good news after realizing that a bill allowing more people of color to open cannabis businesses was signed into law by the state’s governor, Jay Inslee, earlier this week. The state’s Social Equity Task Force on Cannabis (SECTF) was the entity that put its effort into the creation of HB 1443, which, now that it has passed, will offer grants and expert advice for people who have been convicted of a cannabis offense, as well as those living in communities where cannabis prohibition had a negative impact.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board will now rely on a pool of licenses subject to forfeiture, revocation, or cancellation, according to the bill. These licenses will now be available to applicants who properly qualify as social equity. “It’s a down payment on what the state of Washington owes its black residents. We are doing things to right those wrongs,” said Task Force Chair Paula Sardinas.

According to several studies conducted in the state, it was noted that 82% of cannabis licensees were not identified as “minority,” while the rest were Asian, black, and a negligible percentage of Hispanics. The SECTF’s work began a year ago, and perhaps all of this would have been accomplished earlier had it not been for the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. After meeting several times late last year, the group focused on listening to the community and industry stakeholders on issues such as the definition of “disproportionately affected areas” and licensing.