The Washington House approved a bill Feb. 16 that aims to address racial inequity within the state’s cannabis industry, according to The Seattle Times.
H.B. 2870 would allow the state to issue additional cannabis retail licenses for social equity purposes. Under the legislation, regulators could issue previously forfeited, canceled and revoked retail licensed to applicants in a new social equity program, and the bill would direct the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) to prioritize applicants representing communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition, The Seattle Times reported.
The WSLCB would consider factors in the licensing process such as the applicant’s race, gender, history of cannabis-related convictions and plans to employ people of color, according to the news outlet.
The WSLCB requested the legislation, The Seattle Times reported, and regulators say they have 13 unused licenses that can be redistributed.
H.B. 2870 would also create a social equity task force responsible for recommending whether additional licenses should be issued by December, according to the news outlet, and the legislation would also set up a grant program to assist the new licensees with the licensing process, developing business plans and networking.
The legislation cleared the House in a 55-41 vote and must pass out of committee in the Senate by Feb. 28, The Seattle Times reported.