Thank you for sharing our concern about social and racial equity in the cannabis space.
Dockside was founded and continues to be cultivated, by people not traditionally represented in business ownership. We are a LatinX and woman-owned business, and not all cannabis businesses are created equal.
Dockside, originally a medical co-op, was built on the tenets of inclusivity and safe access. We are profoundly aware of the important role we are able to play as change-makers providing a safe space for all consumers and employees, and our wider responsibility to ensure a more socially just future for all. We continue to work as advocates for better legislation to right the wrongs of 100 years of prohibition, including social equity in cannabis businesses.
At Dockside, we have a deep passion for the cannabis plant and its ability to improve physical, spiritual, social, and mental wellness. With the same passion, we are committed to honoring our relationships with our people and community. Dockside is a diverse and inclusive space with hiring and other operational practices that reflect this. In 2020, like many businesses and communities, we made our support for Black Lives Matter clear, while also donating to causes important to racial justice and our employees’ own activism, and supporting the General Strike. Since then, we’ve spent time assessing our company culture and practices further through the lens of anti-discrimination and anti-bias: from the vendors we carry, to the employees we hire and promote, to the customers and communities we serve, and the training we provide. We instituted a company-wide Diversity and Inclusion training, in addition to anti-harassment training, and will continue to offer our staff resources to ensure that our stores are truly inclusive spaces for marginalized groups. Celebrating differences, embracing change, and being a force for good are what propels us forward.
Each of our owners (pictured here) play a different role in our company. Aaron Varney does a tremendous amount of patient and medical community outreach. Maria Moses puts her project management expertise to work, supporting operations. Oscar Velasco-Schmitz’ primary focus is advocacy and activism, which he has done long before Dockside was created.
A History of Advocacy
Born in Mexico city, Oscar is the eldest of six children raised in rural California. He learned about politics and activism at an early age through the United Farmworkers movement. Later, he applied his knowledge toward normalizing cannabis use, working with the City of Seattle to create one of the United States’ first medical cannabis ordinances. He is a co-founder of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics, an adjunct board member of the Cannabis Alliance and is a founding member of the National Cannabis Industry Association. His contemporary efforts include the expansion and creation of business opportunity in various markets, as well as engagement and development of policy, regulation, institutional normalcy, culture and equity.
Here are a couple of links to articles mentioning some of his insights on minority underrepresentation in the cannabis retail space along with resources on how to get involved in creating change.
Customers have raised specific issues related to equity in the cannabis sector, most of which involve advocating to your representative to let your opinion be known:
- Allocation of cannabis tax revenue
- Dockside collects a 37% state excise tax and an additional 10.1% Seattle city sales tax on behalf of consumers (it’s built into the price, rather than added at the register).
- The template for how that revenue is allocated was part of the original legislation legalizing cannabis: https://tre.wa.gov/portfolio-item/washington-state-marijuana-revenues-and-health/
- Some updates to that revenue allocation for the purposes of social equity were added through House Bill 2870, which became effective recently: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/House/2870-S2.SL.pdf?q=20200611122217
- The city of Seattle is engaged in its own cannabis equity work, which is important for individual taxpayers to engage with: https://www.seattle.gov/business-regulations/marijuana-businesses/cannabis-equity
- Legalize home grows to allow individuals to opt out of the 502 market
- This legislation has been presented in the legislature, but not finalized by vote. Contact your representative to show your support: https://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-city-life/2020/02/another-hit-to-the-washington-home-growing-movement
- Expunge cannabis offenses
- This has long been a tenant of social equity, and it passed last year. It is now up to individuals to go through the expungement process: https://crosscut.com/2019/07/it-just-got-easier-wipe-weed-conviction-your-record-wa-heres-how
- Reallocate licenses to under-represented groups
- We continue to be strong advocates for this change, which is represented in House Bill 2870, above: https://harrisbricken.com/cannalawblog/washington-cannabis-finally-adopts-a-social-equity-program/
Please join us by contacting our policy makers: