WASHINGTON – Washington state is expanding its licensed cannabis businesses and under a new law, which will be owned and operated by those most affected by former drug policies.
According to Axios Seattle, Governor Jay Inslee signed a measure into law on May 1st, that will allow 52 more retail cannabis shops to open in Washington between 2024 and 2032.
The measure includes 10 new licenses allowing businesses to grow and cultivate cannabis as well as 100 licenses for marijuana-processing operations.
To be eligible for the new licenses, businesses must have a majority ownership from individuals who meet specific social equity criteria. This criteria includes having lived in a high poverty and unemployment area for at least five years, or having a history of arrest or convictions for cannabis offenses.
The law is aimed to diversity the cannabis industry in Washington, which according to state Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), is predominantly white.
“Building pathways of opportunity and flexibility for people of color disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs is not only a moral imperative, but a crucial step towards a more just and equitable society,” said Saldaña.
Additional regulations will be established by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board for awarding social equity licenses, which will also determine the timeline for releasing the new licenses.
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