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The Washington State Liquor Control and Cannabis Board (LCCB) announced they have reviewed and formally adopted their new social equity plan for handing out pot store licenses.

   Some 40 licenses will be awarded in 2023

Dating back to 2020, the LCCB requested the legislature create and pass legislation creating a social equity program to administer pot store licenses.

According to the LCCB website, there are approximately 40 pot store licenses that have either been surrendered, voided, or otherwise returned 'back' to the state. These licenses will be, starting in 2023, granted to applicants who meet their new equity criteria.

  The idea comes from the theory that certain ethnic and social groups have been denied opportunities to own pot stores.

According to a Crosscut article, the new legislation is designed to help those who are reportedly the most hurt by the war on drugs. The new rules remove some of the previous requirements concerning criminal records and background checks.

 According to the LCCB website, under the section about social equity applicants:

"What is a social equity applicant?
In order to qualify for a social equity license, applicants must meet two of the three following applications as outlined in the enabling law:

  • The applicant(s) must have lived in a disproportionately impacted area in Washington state for a minimum of five years between 1980 and 2010; or
  • The applicant(s) or a family member of the applicant has been arrested or convicted of a cannabis offense; or
  • The applicant(s)’ household income in the year prior to submitting the application was less than the median household income within the state of Washington as calculated by the United States Census Bureau."

According to state license information, 85 percent of the state's pot-related businesses (growers, processors, retailers) are owned by white persons.

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These new rules will go into effect on November 12th of this year, and the application process will begin in early 2023.  A number of email comments on these rules were received by the LCCB, and can be seen by clicking here. The plan was met with significant opposition and criticism from people who said this plan is basically reverse racism or discriminatory.

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