Washington: Governor Signs Legislation Promoting Social Equity in the Cannabis Businesses

Olympia, WA: Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee has signed legislation (House Bill 2870) into law offering targeted technical and financial assistance for disadvantaged populations seeking to enter the licensed cannabis marketplace.

“HB 2870 creates a new social equity program that provides business opportunities to people from disproportionately-harmed communities so they can benefit economically from the cannabis industry and become a cannabis retailer,” the Governor said in a prepared statement.

The legislation acknowledges that those individuals who reside in communities that were most disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization “face greater difficulties accessing traditional banking systems and capital for establishing businesses.” The measure therefore “offers, among other things, financial and technical assistance and license application benefits to individuals most directly and adversely impacted by the enforcement of cannabis-related laws who are interested in starting cannabis business enterprises.”

Washington state voters decided to legalize the retail sale of marijuana to adults in 2012. Licensed retailers began operating in June of 2014. According to data provided by the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board, an estimated three percent of retail cannabis providers, and only one percent of marijuana production and processing facilities, are majority owned by African Americans.

For more information, contact Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator.