Mayor Harrell Signs Suite of Legislation to Improve Equity in Cannabis Industry

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell signed three bills into law to address equity in the cannabis industry by helping foster a more diverse industry and supporting cannabis store workers.

Mayor Harrell was joined by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who helped develop the legislation and sponsored the bills in council. The bills were also developed in partnership with cannabis industry stakeholders and employees.

WATCH: Mayor Harrell signs legislation to improve equity in cannabis industry

The following bills were signed into law:

  • CB 120391 – Expresses the City of Seattle’s intent to: engage in cannabis equity, expungement of cannabis convictions, equity work and funding, and develop a needs assessment for needs within the workforce and cannabis industry 
  • CB 120392 – Advances equity in cannabis licensing and expands licensed activities 
  • CB 120393  – Requires employers to take action to develop job retention, security, and stability within the cannabis industry 

“I am very pleased to see that this joint effort between my office, the Council, FAS and community stakeholders has resulted in the passage of this suite of bills. This is a first – but necessary – step toward equity long overdue in the cannabis industry,” said Mayor Harrell. “The work still to come will highlight additional opportunities for improvement in our current system, and I look forward to the recommendations that result from the Cannabis Needs Assessment. This work won’t be easy, but I believe together we can foster an open conversation between workers, community members and industry leaders to identify common priorities and align on efforts to advance our shared values of equity and restoration.” 

“This Cannabis Equity legislation sets us on a path towards restoring harms created by the War on Drugs, and City and State policies,” said Councilmember Mosqueda. “Thanks to the coalition of advocates – including UFCW 3000, the Freedom Project, Black Excellence in Cannabis – and thanks to Mayor Harrell’s team, we are taking the first of many steps towards policies that center workers, those harmed by the War on Drugs, and displaced Black medical marijuana license holders. As one of the first areas to legalize cannabis, we also need to step up on implementing equity and reparations in the cannabis industry.”

While cannabis licenses are regulated and distributed at the state level, the new legislation allows the City to take tangible steps to improve fairness and opportunity in the industry both now and as additional licenses are awarded. As the state begins to allocate social equity cannabis licenses across Washington, this legislation would ensure Seattle is situated to best enhance local equity efforts. 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

“We see this package of legislation as a first step on a journey to right the wrongs of a system that has harmed black and brown communities – from those arrested and prosecuted who will have their convictions expunged, to the black business owners who were wrongly shut out of the legal market after voters passed I-502, to community leaders who have tirelessly advocated for cannabis dollars to be invested to those most impacted, and to the budtenders who every single day risk their lives going to work due to armed robberies because our federal government has failed to reform our banking system,” said Matt Edgerton, Cannabis Division Director, UFCW 3000. “These workers, organized and unorganized, deserve to be safe, and to be able to access trainings that enable them to be successful, advance their skills and develop the industry as a whole. That’s who this legislation has always been about and whose voices we have sought to center in our advocacy.” 

“We have appreciated the opportunity to work constructively with Mayor Harrell and the City Council on the three ordinances addressing the important issue of cannabis equity in Seattle,” said Adán Espino, Executive Director, Craft Cannabis Coalition. “We know that this is just a start, and there will be further work on this topic over the next year. We look forward to working with the Mayor’s team on the fair, even handed, and thoughtful cannabis equity needs assessment process that these ordinances set out to establish.” 

Mayor Harrell speaks at a podium while stakeholders stand behind him.
Mayor Harrell smiles with Mary Mitchell.