69.50.334  <<  69.50.335 >>   69.50.336

Marijuana retailer licensesSocial equity applicantsRulesDefinitions.

(1) Beginning December 1, 2020, and until July 1, 2028, marijuana retailer licenses that have been subject to forfeiture, revocation, or cancellation by the board, or marijuana retailer licenses that were not previously issued by the board but could have been issued without exceeding the limit on the statewide number of marijuana retailer licenses established before January 1, 2020, by the board, may be issued or reissued to an applicant who meets the marijuana retailer license requirements of this chapter.
(2)(a) In order to be considered for a retail license under subsection (1) of this section, an applicant must be a social equity applicant and submit a social equity plan along with other marijuana retailer license application requirements to the board. If the application proposes ownership by more than one person, then at least fifty-one percent of the proposed ownership structure must reflect the qualifications of a social equity applicant.
(b) Persons holding an existing marijuana retailer license or title certificate for a marijuana retailer business in a local jurisdiction subject to a ban or moratorium on marijuana retail businesses may apply for a license under this section.
(3)(a) In determining the issuance of a license among applicants, the board may prioritize applicants based on the extent to which the application addresses the components of the social equity plan.
(b) The board may deny any application submitted under this subsection if the board determines that:
(i) The application does not meet social equity goals or does not meet social equity plan requirements; or
(ii) The application does not otherwise meet the licensing requirements of this chapter.
(4) The board may adopt rules to implement this section. Rules may include strategies for receiving advice on the social equity program from individuals the program is intended to benefit. Rules may also require that licenses awarded under this section be transferred or sold only to individuals or groups of individuals who comply with the requirements for initial licensure as a social equity applicant with a social equity plan under this section.
(5) The annual fee for issuance, reissuance, or renewal for any license under this section must be equal to the fee established in RCW 69.50.325.
(6) For the purposes of this section:
(a) "Disproportionately impacted area" means a census tract or comparable geographic area that satisfies the following criteria, which may be further defined in rule by the board after consultation with the commission on African American affairs and other agencies and stakeholders as determined by the board:
(i) The area has a high poverty rate;
(ii) The area has a high rate of participation in income-based federal or state programs;
(iii) The area has a high rate of unemployment; and
(iv) The area has a high rate of arrest, conviction, or incarceration related to the sale, possession, use, cultivation, manufacture, or transport of marijuana.
(b) "Social equity applicant" means:
(i) An applicant who has at least fifty-one percent ownership and control by one or more individuals who have resided for at least five of the preceding ten years in a disproportionately impacted area; or
(ii) An applicant who has at least fifty-one percent ownership and control by at least one individual who has been convicted of a marijuana offense or is a family member of such an individual.
(c) "Social equity goals" means:
(i) Increasing the number of marijuana retailer licenses held by social equity applicants from disproportionately impacted areas; and
(ii) Reducing accumulated harm suffered by individuals, families, and local areas subject to severe impacts from the historical application and enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws.
(d) "Social equity plan" means a plan that addresses at least some of the elements outlined in this subsection (6)(d), along with any additional plan components or requirements approved by the board following consultation with the task force created in RCW 69.50.336. The plan may include:
(i) A statement that the social equity applicant qualifies as a social equity applicant and intends to own at least fifty-one percent of the proposed marijuana retail business or applicants representing at least fifty-one percent of the ownership of the proposed business qualify as social equity applicants;
(ii) A description of how issuing a marijuana retail license to the social equity applicant will meet social equity goals;
(iii) The social equity applicant's personal or family history with the criminal justice system including any offenses involving marijuana;
(iv) The composition of the workforce the social equity applicant intends to hire;
(v) Neighborhood characteristics of the location where the social equity applicant intends to operate, focusing especially on disproportionately impacted areas; and
(vi) Business plans involving partnerships or assistance to organizations or residents with connection to populations with a history of high rates of enforcement of marijuana prohibition.

NOTES:

FindingsIntent2020 c 236: "(1) The legislature finds that additional efforts are necessary to reduce barriers to entry to the cannabis industry for individuals and communities most adversely impacted by the enforcement of cannabis-related laws. In the interest of establishing a cannabis industry that is equitable and accessible to those most adversely impacted by the enforcement of drug-related laws, including cannabis-related laws, the legislature finds a social equity program should be created.
(2) The legislature finds 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 finds that individuals in disproportionately impacted areas suffered the harms of enforcement of cannabis-related laws. Those communities face greater difficulties accessing traditional banking systems and capital for establishing businesses.
(3) The legislature therefore finds that in the interest of remedying harms resulting from the enforcement of cannabis-related laws in disproportionately impacted areas, creating a social equity program will further an equitable cannabis industry by promoting business ownership among individuals who have resided in areas of high poverty and high enforcement of cannabis-related laws. The social equity program should offer, 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. It is the intent of the legislature that implementation of the social equity program authorized by this act not result in an increase in the number of marijuana retailer licenses above the limit on the number of marijuana retailer licenses in the state established by the [Washington state liquor and cannabis] board before January 1, 2020." [ 2020 c 236 § 1.]
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