Yo, what’s good? My name is Dan and I’m here to drop some knowledge on y’all about the social equity cannabis program in Washington state. So here’s the deal: the state is about to give out more than 40 new retail licenses to folks who qualify for social equity status, but the deadline to apply is coming up fast, so listen up.
If you’re interested in getting one of these licenses, you gotta get your application in by March 30th. The state regulatory agency that oversees cannabis, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, is handling the social equity applications. They’ve got more than 40 licenses up for grabs that “were forfeited, cancelled, revoked or never issued” and will be available in specific parts of the state as part of the program.
Now, to qualify for social equity status, you gotta meet some criteria. First off, at least 51% of your business has to be owned by someone who’s lived in Washington state for at least 6 months before applying. That person also has to meet at least two of these qualifications: they’ve lived in a disproportionately impacted area (DIA) in Washington state for at least five years between 1980 and 2010; they or a family member has been arrested or convicted of a cannabis offense; or their household income was less than the median household income in Washington ($82,400). Oh, and if you served time in prison for a cannabis offense, you’ll get priority when it comes to getting one of these licenses.
Social equity programs are becoming standard in states that have legalized recreational cannabis because we gotta make up for all the harm that was done during prohibition. But in Washington, which was one of the first states to legalize way back in 2012, it took a while for them to get with the program. The ballot measure that voters approved didn’t do anything to address the harm that was done to certain communities by enforcing cannabis laws.
Finally, last year, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that created the social equity cannabis program. The goal is to give people who were disproportionately impacted by prohibition laws the opportunity to get into the cannabis industry now that it’s legal. But there’s still a lot of work to do. Right now, most of the industry is owned by white folks – 82%, according to a report from the Liquor and Cannabis Board. Only 3% of retailers are owned by Black residents and only 2% are Hispanic-owned.
So if you’re someone who meets the qualifications for social equity status and you wanna get into this industry, now’s your chance. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! Get your application in by March 30th and maybe we can start making this industry look a little more like the diverse community it serves.