MEDIA RELEASE: Social Equity Retail License Application Window Opens March 1, 2023

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Jan. 18, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              Contact:  Brian E. Smith

Social Equity Retail License Application Window Opens March 1, 2023

OLYMPIA – The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) today announced that it will open the application window for approximately 44 social equity retail cannabis licenses March 1, 2023. The 30-day application window closes March 30, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.


“Today’s announcement is the culmination of efforts by the LCB, the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force (SECTF), and our partners to take the first steps available to us toward addressing the disproportionate harm caused to communities from the War on Drugs,” said Board Member Ollie Garrett and SECTF member.


State law caps the number of retail outlets at 556. The LCB since 2020 has held in reserve retail licenses that were forfeited, cancelled, revoked or never issued that will be available in jurisdictions across the state. Thus far, 44 retail licenses have been reserved for the social equity program. 


To qualify, each applicant must have at least a 51% majority ownership interest, must be a person(s) who has resided in Washington State for six months prior to applying, and meets at least two of the following qualifications:

  1. The social equity applicant(s) have lived in a disproportionately impacted area (DIA) in Washington State for a minimum of five years between 1980 and 2010. 

  2. The social equity applicant or a family member of the applicant has been arrested or convicted of a cannabis offense.
  1. The social equity applicant's household income in the year prior to submitting the application was less than the median household income within the state of Washington, which is $82,400.


The LCB last week posted maps indicating Disproportionately Impacted Areas. The interactive maps are an essential tool for identifying whether an applicant meets one of the above three criteria to qualify for the program. Disproportionately Impacted Areas were defined by the legislature. They include those census tracts that meet the following criteria:

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


2023 Legislaton

In addition to the 44 licenses held in serve, the LCB has requested legislation this session that would allow the LCB to increase over time a modest number of licenses based on recent census data and annual population estimates from the state Office of Financial Management (OFM). The bill, Senate Bill 5080, is sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle). A hearing on the bill was held the first day of the 2023 legislative session. 


Social Equity in Cannabis Website

For more information please visit the Social Equity section of the LCB website. The LCB website is the central source of information regarding the social equity program. Please visit the website to learn more about the social equity program, view the maps and access the training provided.