Only 4% of Cannabis Businesses in Washington State are Black-Owned

According to the most recent data available from the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Commission (LCB), only 4% of cannabis business owners in Seattle, Washington are black owned.new report from King5News We interviewed the minority business owners who lost their positions in the industry when Washington legalized adult-use cannabis, and how the Seattle task force is tackling change.

Former cannabis business owners Peter Manning and Mike Asai recall what life was like in Seattle decades ago. “We know we are using the war on drugs to go after blacks and browns,” said Peter Manning, an entrepreneur and Seattle native. king 5“You guys punish us for years with cannabis. And now it’s okay. Now you’re doing it. Now it’s okay.”

“Growing up in Seattle in the 80’s, [if you] Mike Acai, co-founder of the Emerald City Collective, said: “[I’ve] That’s the only time I’ve seen it happen to family members, friends and acquaintances.

Washington state legalized medical cannabis in 1998, prompting both Manning and Asai to pursue roles in the industry. In the 2000s they both joined medical cannabis collectivehas connected producers and retailers in a way that benefits the community.

“It was very empowering to be in the bad end when it came to cannabis and then back to the good end,” Asai said of the collective. It was a war against the people, a war against the black men and black women of this country.”

In 2015, states legalized cannabis for adult use, forcing cannabis business owners to close their businesses and reapply for licenses, while many black and brown business owners secured their licenses. I couldn’t. “It’s justified, but it’s suddenly turned into a crime…it’s very traumatic,” Asai said. “It was very depressing and painful, especially seeing all the money we’ve made in the last six years since we closed. I had to figure things out. Just to survive. , had to use Uber for about a year.”

Of the state’s 558 available licenses, only 19 were granted to black applicants, according to 2021 LCB data. “There’s zero African-American ownership in the city of Seattle, and it’s probably not shown to be this progressive state, this liberal state,” Manning said.

In recent years, Manning and Asai have spoken to the press and attended city meetings to speak out about the injustice. Most recently, the two attended the Seattle City Council on July 20, joining the public as his commentators urging the city council to address the issue.

of Social Equity in the Cannabis Task Force was created by 2020 Establish social equity programs and issue and reissue retail licenses. The first set of recommendations was submitted on January 6, 2022, with a December 9, 2022 deadline to submit a final report to the Legislature and Governor.

LCB Board Social Equity, a member of the cannabis task force, told King5 that change needs to happen now. “Yes. what about us Garrett said. “We said, ‘Oh, we need to fix this.'”

Garrett describes the situation as a “failure” and a “missed opportunity.” “Could it have been done differently in the first place? Yes. But this was a new industry. Who knew and who thought about inclusion and black people being left behind?” Garrett said.

according to king 5, the Cannabis Task Force Social Equality has reserved 38 licenses for people of color. Unfortunately, more than half of the licenses are for businesses in territories that currently prohibit cannabis. “Currently, LCB cannot move licenses from their current area or create new licenses.[s] Without the law,” said Garrett. “I will introduce [that] in this next session. ”

Manning questions the Task Force’s position on fairness. “What can you give me?” Manning said. “A license that says you have the right to sell cannabis?

He also suggests that consumers be mindful of where they buy cannabis. “We have white-owned stores in our black neighborhoods,” said Manning. “Ten years ago you were locking us in for the same thing. White people were making millions of dollars. We want black owned stores in our community.”

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