Washington’s Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force has been hard at work since its creation in 2020, and new legislation in the state Legislature now aims to incorporate policies recommended by the task force to increase social equity in the state’s cannabis market. The task force, which is made up of lawmakers, government representatives, and industry experts, was charged with making recommendations about issuing and reissuing cannabis dispensary licenses in ways that would promote business ownership among people of color, according to The Seattle Times. A new bill in the Washington Legislature, House Bill 2022, aims to do just that by creating 38 new dispensary licenses, as well as 25 new producer and processor licenses, every year through 2029, the news outlet reported. These licenses may only be issued to social equity applicants through 2030, and then, beginning in 2031, 50% of the licenses must be awarded to social equity applicants. Social equity applicants are defined as those who have lived in areas disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, or those who plan to open a cannabis business that is majority-owned by a racial group that has been disproportionately affected by arrests for cannabis possession, The Seattle Times reported. H.B. 2022 also earmarks over $22 million annually to provide grants, low-interest loans, and a mentorship program to social equity applicants, according to the news outlet.
Posted Melissa Schiller, Cannabis Business Times, 02/14/2022 15:38:00