It was first launched about a year and a half ago, and is starting to move ahead.

 Social equity program to award pot store licenses to 'certain' individuals

The Social Equity in Cannabis program will formally begin accepting applicants March 1st, 2023, and the application process will close on March 30th.

The brainchild of Rep. Eric Pettigrew at the bequest of the LCB, the program will award pot store licenses to applicants who are deemed to have been the most affected by the war on drugs.

The premise was that there were not enough minorities and other ethnic, social or 'affected' persons who are currently owners or were given opportunities to own, a pot store in WA state.

Here are the criteria, from the LCB, to apply for this program:

Check to see if you qualify as a Social Equity applicant.
To be considered for the social equity program, the following requirements must be met by each applicant:

  • "At least a 51 percent majority, or controlling interest, in the applicant, must be held by a person(s), who has or have resided in Washington state for six months prior to the application date, and meets at least two of the following qualifications:
    • lived in a disproportionately impacted area (DIA) in Washington state for a minimum of five years between 1980 and 2010 - check your address history on the DIA map here; OR
    • applicant or a family member has been arrested or convicted of a cannabis offense; OR
    • household income was less than the median household income within the state of Washington ($82,400) "

A DIA, or disproportionately impacted area can be found by looking at the LCB map on their website. The LCB just announced this week that several weeks after releasing these maps, they were met with feedback that there were not enough of theses DIA's represented, so the number of neighborhoods has been increased. From an LCB email obtained by us:  (these thresholds have been increased)

  • "The area has a high poverty rate;
  • The area has a high rate of participation in income-based federal programs;
  • The area has a high rate of unemployment; and
  • The area has a high rate of convictions."

The licenses that are going to be awarded to applicants come from a collection of stores that were never opened or licenses that were surrendered or confiscated by the state over operational violations of pot store laws.

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How will this help a community? The LCB thinks that by putting pot stores in affected communities and requiring the store and owners-operators to perform a wide variety of community service and social outreach, it will lessen the effects of drugs, poverty, and other negative factors in that area.


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