Washington governor Jay Inslee signed a bill that bolsters a social justice program passed in 2020 to provide more marijuana retail opportunities for minority businesses in the state.
This year’s Action HB 1443 expands and defines a social justice program that gives priority to retail licenses, grants, and other technical assistance to individuals in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
In 2020, the legislature passed HB 2870, which brought the marijuana social equity program to life.
It is unclear how successful the program will be as the state has a mature marijuana program with established operators.
Under last year’s law, which began December 1, 2020, state regulators were able to prioritize unassigned retail licenses – as they were forfeited or revoked – for social justice applicants.
Far less than 20% of marijuana retailers identified themselves as minorities, according to data reported to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board itself last year.
These included 7% Asians, 4% Multiracial, 3% Black, 2% Hispanic American, and 1% Other.