Frequently Asked Questions

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Social Equity Notification Letters

I haven’t received a letter, what should I do?

The LCB is sending out application status letters until 9/27. If you haven’t received a letter by then, please contact the email for assistance. 

How do I find out my rubric score?

You can request a copy of your application records, including your score, by submitting a Public Records Request through the portal on our website.

I received a withdrawal notice and I want to appeal the decision. How do I do that?

If you wish to appeal the withdrawal, LCB must receive your appeal request by the close of business, no later than twenty (20) calendar days from the date your withdrawal notice was emailed to you. Only the individual listed on the application may request an appeal of your withdrawal. Include your license number, tradename and withdrawal letter in the request. Submit your request to

If an appeal is requested, a Statement of Intent will be emailed to you with a form to complete to formally request a hearing. 

What if I have questions about the appeal process?

Email the Adjudications Coordinator at



FAQ Categories





Business Info


Social Equity Glossary

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How do I apply to be a social equity applicant?

The application window for the Social Equity program is now closed. Those who have successfully submitted a license application through BLS will receive an invitation to a portal from third-party contractor Ponder Diversity Group to complete their Social Equity application and upload documentation.

I heard the application window was extended to April 27. Where can I read more about this?

The application window is now closed. You can read the announcement on the application deadline extension here.

What verification documentation will I need to submit to the third party contractor?

In order to verify your eligibility as a social equity applicant, you must submit applicable documents to third-party contractor Ponder Diversity Group with your application. View a list of example verification documents here.

Where do I submit my verification documents to the third party contractor?

If applicants have submitted an application via BLS, they will receive an email invitation from Ponder Diversity Group to register for a portal where they will complete a second social equity application. This application will ask for verifying documentation such as proof of living in a Disproportionately Impacted Area, household income, cannabis and their Social Equity Plan. Please check your email regularly, including your spam folder, to ensure you are able to access this portal.

I can't find the BLS application. Where is it?

You can log in to Business Licensing Services (BLS) here. You will need a SecureAccess Washington account to log in. 

What is the timeline for social equity applications?

 Ponder Diversity Group will reach out to those who successfully submitted a license application via BLS to invite applicants to a portal to submit a Social Equity Application with their supporting documentation.

Can I submit multiple applications?

No, applicants may only apply for a social equity license once.

I applied as a Sole Proprietor but want to now add a partner. Can I go back and do this? 

No, after you submit your application, you cannot change your business structure.

Are these licenses available throughout the state?

No, there are specific counties where social equity licenses are available. Learn more about the available license allotments here.

When and how do I pick the county in which I want to operate my business?

You will pick the county when you submit the Ponder Diversity application through their online portal. Applicants who successfully submitted a BLS application will be emailed an invitation to this portal after the licensing application window closes.

Can I apply in a county other than where I live?

Yes, you can apply in any county where a license is available.

I see these licenses are available for specific counties. Can we also operate our business within city limits of the county we choose?

Yes, as long as the location is legal and compliant per the rules.

Can I apply in more than one county and rank my choices, such as first, second, third?

No, you can only apply for a license in one county.

Where can I find the open allotments map?

Information on open allotments and counties is available here.

What do I need to create a social equity plan?

The LCB will provide a structure for creating your business’ social equity plan. You can learn more on this page.

What is the fee for the Business Licensing Services (BLS) application?

The Department of Revenue's BLS application fee is $250. 



Who is eligible to be a social equity applicant?

To be considered for the social equity program, the following requirements must be met:
At least a 51 percent majority, or controlling interest, in the applicant, must be held by a person, or persons, who has or have resided in Washington State for six months prior to the application date, consistent with RCW 69.50.331, and meets at least two of the following qualifications:

  • The applicant(s) must have lived in a disproportionately impacted area in Washington state for a minimum of five years between 1980 and 2010; or
  • The applicant(s) or a family member of the applicant has been arrested or convicted of a cannabis offense; or
  • The applicant(s)’ household income in the year prior to submitting the application was less than the median household income within the state of Washington as calculated by the United States Census Bureau.

Please read the finalized rules available here for all qualifications.

Do I have to be a racial minority to get a social equity license?

Individuals of any race are welcome to apply for a social equity license, if they meet the requirements for social equity applicants as outlined above. You do not need to be a racial minority to apply for or receive a social equity license.

Can spouses each apply for their own social equity retail license? 

Yes, however they cannot have any mutual funds or shared accounts. All of their finances have to be separate. The spouse could not have control of the of the business or receive any profits as outlined in WAC 314-55-035

Why are arrests and convictions qualifiers for a social equity license?

The Washington State legislature recognized that cannabis prohibition laws were disproportionately enforced for decades and that the cumulative harms from this enforcement remain even today, the LCB is committed to supporting individuals and communities that may have been disproportionately convicted of crimes for a legal substance.

How were the qualifications for social equity applicants determined?

The Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force developed preliminary guidelines for social equity applicants. The LCB offered opportunities for stakeholders to review the drafts and offer feedback throughout the rulemaking process. View more information on the requirements for social equity applicants in the finalized rules.

Will my criminal history impact my ability to get a license? 

During the application process, the LCB will look into all aspects of the business and the individuals applying. One of the requirements is the submission of a background check and fingerprints. You can view the WAC that outlines the background check process and specific details regarding convictions here

I have a producer/processor license, can I apply as a social equity applicant?

No. Washington State law prohibits licensees from having both a producer/processor and a retail license.

Can someone that already owns a retail cannabis store apply for this program? 

Yes, but they must meet minimum qualifications, and they can’t have more than five licenses. In addition, they cannot have a producer/processor license and apply for a retail license.

I can’t find one of my past addresses on the DIA map. What should I do?

Make sure your address is correct and enter the address in slowly, giving the program time to load. If

Why did the LCB hire a third party contractor to review and score social equity applications?

The Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force and the community recommended that the LCB hire a third party contractor to review and score social equity applications. 



Can more than one person be scored on a social equity application? 

The ownership structure for social equity must be comprised of at least 51 percent social equity owners. Those owners will submit verifying documents to the third party contractor to be reviewed and scored.

Who decides whether my application meets the criteria for receiving a license?

A scoring rubric was developed and approved by the Board. Ponder Diversity Group will serve as a third party contractor, which will review, validate applicants’ qualifications, and score all the applications submitted.

The window for retail cannabis license applications is now extended to April 27. I submitted my application in March, will my review begin in April as previously stated?

Ponder Diversity will send all applicants who successfully applied during the open window period an invitation to join their portal after the window closes.

Can I count multiple convictions, for myself or my family members, separately?

No, you can only meet the conviction criteria and score once.

I have convictions as a juvenile. Can I use this to gain points on the rubric? 


Do I have to have a conviction, or does a cannabis arrest count?

Either an arrest or a conviction is a qualifying factor. Per the social equity rubric, points are given for a conviction.

My close relative (sibling/spouse, etc.) are applying together as majority owners on a social equity license. Can we use each other's points on the rubric for family member drug and cannabis offenses?


If my partner and I were both convicted of a cannabis offense and each served probation, can we individually receive points on the rubric in this category? 

No, you cannot duplicate points. The maximum points for probation is 20 points per the rubric.

How do I know if I have lived in a Disproportionately Impacted Area (DIA)?

You can enter your address history on the DIA map here to learn whether it is in a disproportionately impacted area between 1980 and 2010.

How were Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs) determined?

The DIAs were defined by the legislature. They include census tracts that were in the top 30% on all of the following indicators:

  • High poverty rate;
  • High rate of participation in income-based federal programs;
  • High rate of unemployment; and
  • High rate of convictions

Learn more about the DIAs here.

What can I use for proof for a current or old address?

In order to verify your eligibility as a social equity applicant, you must submit applicable documents to third-party contractor Ponder Diversity Group with your application. View a list of example verification documents here.



What is a social equity license?

The LCB has held in reserve over 40 licenses that were forfeited, cancelled, or revoked or were licenses that were never issued. Applicants who meet the eligibility qualifications and score the highest on the Social Equity Rubric will have the opportunity to complete the licensing process. 

Am I able to add another person to my business, and change my business structure after I apply at BLS?

You cannot change anything on your application after submitting it.

I am a certificate title holder that meets the criteria for a social equity license. Am I eligible to apply under these rules?

Yes, current title certificate holders may apply for a social equity license. In addition, title certificate holders who meet the qualifications for a social equity license may move their license anywhere within the county where their title certificate is located. In order to qualify, the social equity title certificate holder must submit an application to reinstate their existing license through the Social Equity Program. You may only submit one social equity application. The third-party provider will work with you to determine whether you are applying to make your title certificate a social equity license, applying for a new social equity license, or both. 

What is the process for receiving a social equity license?

After submitting a social equity application through the Department of Revenue’s business licensing online application system, third-party contractor Ponder Diversity Group will score all applications submitted during the application window. Ponder Diversity Group will forward the applications to the LCB and the highest scoring applications will receive a preliminary letter of approval. In the case of a tie in a county, the LCB will hold a double blind lottery to select the final applicants to move forward with the LCB licensing process. After the final applicants are identified, they will work with an LCB Licensing Specialist to complete the licensing process.

How long does it take to get a license once I apply?

After an application is submitted, it will be reviewed by third party contractor Ponder Diversity Group. The applicant must provide the requested materials within 15 days. If the application is determined to be incomplete, the social equity applicant will be provided 14 days to complete their application and provide additional documentation. After the LCB receives the application scores from Ponder Diversity Group, the agency will work to award licenses to the top scoring applicants and notify all applicants of their application status.

Can I add a DBA to my license?

Yes, however not until you begin working with a licensor if you’re one of the applicants able to move forward with the Social Equity in Cannabis Retail License. 

Can I be or have an out-of-state financier on the license?

Someone who is only a “financier” and not a True Party of Interest on a license can be from out of state, per WAC 314-55-035.


Business Info

What is the difference between an owner and an investor?

• Owner: Individuals who expect to receive income from the retail business. These individuals will be listed on the license.
• Investor: Individuals who provide supporting funds to the business. Investors only receive interest when paid back by the licensee.  

What if I want to apply for my social equity license with an already established UBI/entity?

If you already have a UBI established with the Secretary of State, you are ready to apply when the window opens. You will use the UBI number for your business when prompted on the Social Equity application through BLS.

Will I be able to make changes to my business ownership structure after I submit an application?

No, you may not make ownership changes to an application after the application has been submitted. 

Is there a website or public documents that show who owned a medical cannabis retail store or collective garden? 

We are unaware or a website or public document referencing this.



How do I receive the most up to date information on the Social Equity program?

You can sign up for our listservs directly here. Alternatively, navigate to our website at, you’ll see a pop up window that asks for your email address. If you sign up, you’ll receive our newsletters, press releases, and other updates. 

What is the Technical Assistance Program?

In collaboration with the Washington State Department of Commerce and MakeGreenGo, the Technical Assistance Program is a free resource available to anyone interested. Potential applicants may sign up and register for a free account and view 18 hours of video content, download worksheets, and learn more about basic business concepts with examples specific to the cannabis industry. Sign up for an account and log in here.

I have input on the LCB’s plan for issuing social equity licenses. Do I have an opportunity to still give input?

While the opportunity for providing feedback on the current set of draft social equity rules closed at midnight on Sept. 14, 2022, the rulemaking team will continue to accept suggestions for future rules via:

Fax:    (360) 664-9689; or
Mail:    Rules Coordinator
            Liquor and Cannabis Board
            P.O. Box 43090
            Olympia, WA 98504-3080

Social Equity Glossary

With so many unfamiliar terms and acronyms, it can be confusing to try and navigate or understand what it means when trying to learn about and apply for a social equity license. This is a list of some common terms and acronyms used throughout the LCB’s social equity webpages. If there are additional things you think would be useful to add to this list, please email

  • Business Licensing Services (BLS)
    A program run through the Department of Revenue. This is the online application portal through which applicants will apply for a social equity license.
  • Cannabis Business Academy
    Free educational courses containing videos and worksheets developed by MakeGreenGo! for social equity applicants.
  • Disproportionately Impacted Area (DIA)
    A geographical location in Washington State determined to have been heavily impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) map
    A dynamic, customizable map to show multiple data points in an area. The DIA map will use this technology to allow users to pinpoint the area in which they would like to apply for a license. 
  • MakeGreenGo!
    The organization contracted with the LCB and Department of Commerce to collaborate on educational content for potential social equity licensees.
  • Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
    A compilation of all Washington State laws.
  • Washington Administrative Code (WAC)
    A compilation of all rules and regulations created by Washington State agencies.

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