Who is eligible to be a social equity applicant?
Under the proposed rules, in order to be eligible for a social equity cannabis license, applicants must meet two of the three 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.
You may read about the criteria and scoring system in the draft proposed rules.
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.
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. Proposed draft rules including all definitions and application criteria was presented to the Board on Aug. 3, 2022.
Who decides whether my application meets the criteria for receiving a license?
A scoring rubric was developed and approved by the Board, outlined in proposed new section WAC 314-55-570. Law firm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB) will serve as a third party contractor, which will review, validate applicants’ qualifications, and score all the applications submitted.
What is the scoring rubric for social equity applications?
The rubric from the final social equity rules is available here.
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. The selected third party contractor, law firm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB), is the largest minority and woman-owned law firm in the country. They have a proven track record working with businesses and government agencies to use federal guidelines determine eligibility for Disadvantaged Business Eligibility (DBE), and creating opportunities for small and minority businesses to access government contracts.
How do I apply to be a social equity applicant?
We are not yet accepting applications. We will update this page as applications become available. Check out our page on things you can do now to prepare to apply.
What is the timeline for social equity applications?
Applications must be submitted within a designated 30-day window. The application window will be announced at a later date. Applicants must meet the qualifications and submit their application during this time in order to be considered for a license.
Can I submit multiple applications?
No, applicants may only apply for a social equity license once.
Are these licenses available throughout the state?
No, there are specific counties where social equity licenses are available. To find out where these licenses are available, please view a map here.
Will able 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 reviewed, scored, and prioritized by the third party contractor.
What do I need to create a social equity plan?
The LCB will provide a structure for creating your business’ social equity plan. Stay tuned for more information and training on this topic.
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. The criteria is currently in the draft proposed rules.
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. An application to reinstate the license of a social equity title certificate holder will not be considered a new social equity license application. A separate application must be submitted for a title certificate holder to qualify for a new social equity license.
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 law firm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB) will score all applications submitted during the 30-day window. QPWB 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 law firm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QWPB). If additional materials are needed, 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. After the LCB receives the application scores from QWPB, the agency will work to award licenses to the top scoring applicants and notify all applicants of their application status.
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.
How do I become a mentor for social equity applicants?
The Washington State Department of Commerce has submitted a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the mentorship program for social equity applicants. Keep an eye on their website for more information.
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