Washington Cannabis Finally Adopts a Social Equity Program

On March 31, 2020, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 2870, which “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.” We’ve covered the social equity program in Los Angeles pretty heavily, as our L.A. office has been working with applicants since the beginning, and in California, Oakland and San Francisco have also implemented social equity programs.

Washington, one of the first two states to legalize adult-use cannabis, is a relatively late adopter of a strategy for implementing such a program. However, according to HB 2870, the legislature is recognizing a truth that is being widely discussed:

… that individuals who have been arrested or incarcerated due to drug laws, and those who have resided in areas of high poverty, suffer long-lasting adverse consequences, including impacts to employment, business ownership, housing, health, and long-term financial well-being. The legislature also finds that family members, especially children, and communities of those who have been arrested or incarcerated due to drug laws, suffer from emotional, psychological, and financial harms as a result of such arrests and incarceration. The legislature further

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