OLYMPIA, WA – In 2020, the Washington State Legislature determined that additional efforts are necessary to reduce barriers to entry to the cannabis industry for individuals and communities most adversely impacted by the enforcement of cannabis-related laws.
As a result, the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force was formed, allowing approximately 41 additional cannabis retail licenses to be issued for social equity purposes. Additionally, the Washington Department of Commerce partnered with the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) and Make Green Go! to create the Social Equity in Cannabis Technical Assistance Program, providing support for those interested in creating new cannabis ventures and applying for the Social Equity licenses.
The program consists of an online training module to help educate potential business owners on business planning and development, as well as group and one-on-one mentoring for applicants navigating the complexities of licensing a retail cannabis business.
The online modules are self-paced and include 17 free videos to help entrepreneurs better understand business planning, market research, strategies, accounting and finance. The program also helps eligible applicants prepare for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) Social Equity license application process.
The commerce department is now preparing to create a roster of mentors as well as a facilitator to launch the mentorship element the program. Mentors will initially provide support services to any early-stage entrepreneurs interested in starting cannabis business enterprises, particularly those who have been historically impacted by high poverty and enforcement of cannabis prohibitions. Later, assistance will target specialized guidance and support to those seeking Social Equity licenses, providing tools and expertise where necessary.
Mentors may be awarded up to $40,000 depending on their proposed plan and budget, with a six-month contract from January 2023 through June 2023. The selected facilitator may be awarded up to $150,000 for the creation of three events in January, March and June 2023 to support program participants and additional in-person or online events.
Proposals are due Nov. 28, 2022.
On November 2, 2022 at 11:00 am, the program will hold an applicant workshop. The pre-proposal Zoom meeting is for prospective mentor and facilitator applicants.
For questions about the RFP or workshop, contact Elijah Moon, [email protected], (206) 256-6113.