WSLCB - Board Caucus
(July 11, 2023)

Tuesday July 11, 2023 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Observed
WSLCB Enforcement Logo

The three-member board of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) meets weekly in caucus to discuss current issues and receive invited briefings from agency staff.


The board heard how an environmental pesticides investigation was nearing completion along with comments from the incoming agency director and plans for staff focus groups.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday July 11th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Director of Enforcement and Education Chandra Wax explained why WSLCB staff were winding down their environmental pesticide action investigation as contaminated products had been identified and quarterly product testing by regulators in a specific region of the state would be implemented.
    • In an April 6th announcement to all licensees about possible legacy pesticide contamination in a region of central Washington, Wax’s bulletin explained there were administrative holds on licensees and voluntary product recalls based on testing done by staff of the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) showing dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE)---a remnant compound of the banned pesticide Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)---over default action levels in rule of 0.1 parts per million (ppm).
    • On Monday July 10th, the agency published another bulletin stating that the investigation into environmental pesticides in the region was concluding, having “received final test results from all of the investigatory samples.” It noted that of “108 product samples submitted, 61 products tested above the 0.1 action limit for DDE. Enforcement and Education staff have placed a hold on each of the contaminated products and will work with the licensees to ensure the identified products are destroyed. There were five licensees with administrative holds. As of July 3, 2023, all of the holds have been lifted.”The notice further suggested agency officials would “conduct quarterly testing to ensure product safety.”
      • WSDA conducted pesticide testing for WSLCB beyond what’s required of accredited cannabis laboratories under an interagency agreement for investigation-based and random cannabis testing.
    • In the caucus, Wax said she was there “at the board's request to provide an update regarding DDE contaminants found in cannabis and soil from several licensee locations in north central Washington.” She reported that on April 11th, WSLCB and DOE staff “collected soil water and product samples in a five-mile stretch of land along the south end of the Okanagan River and north of Lake Pateros” (audio - 4mVideo - WSLCB, Video - TVW, presentation).
      • Preliminary results on soil testing conducted through DOE indicated “levels of DDE, DDT, lead, and arsenic in the soil samples are above state standards. Licenses will be notified and provided copies of test results when final and received,” stated Wax.
      • The administrative holds on five licenses had been lifted “as of July 3rd,” Wax told board members. She indicated that of the results they’d received so far, “out of 124 product samples submitted 59 products tested above the 0.1 action limit for DDE.” According to Wax, specific products were under a different kind of administrative hold by LCB as staff “work[ed] with the licenses to ensure those products are destroyed.” Of a “total of 124 water and product samples traced back to the impacted region” collected between January and May, she described WSDA lab results:
        • “68 cannabis foliage samples, 56 oil rosin samples, and three water samples”
        • “90 of those 124 samples [had] DDE detections”, specifically “37 of those are foliage, and 53 of those are cannabis oil, rosin
        • “59 failed for concentrations above action limit for DDE, 50 of those were oil rosin samples, and nine of those were foliage samples”
        • “The highest concentration of DDE [was] 4.6 [ppm], 46 times the action limit” in a rosin sample, while “the lowest concentration [was] 0.018 points parts per million, in a foliage sample”
        • The average overall DDE concentration in those samples identified [was] 0.495 parts per million…almost five times the action limit”
        • “29 foliage samples [were] of medium risk. We believe those will rise above action limits if concentrated. 24 of those for DDE, and five with other types of pesticides”
        • “In the foliage samples, in addition to DDE, we found 13 other types of pesticides below action levels, two of those allowed, 11 not allowed”
    • Board Chair David Postman brought up the distinction between a hold on a license and a hold on a product. Wax clarified that there were “investigatory holds” on licensees which had been lifted, but “individual holds have been placed on each of the products that tested above action limits…so those are still held and will be destroyed.” The 59 impacted cannabis product lines under a hold wouldn’t technically end, but would be “fulfilled,” she explained, “each one gets lifted as that product’s destroyed” (audio - 1m,  Video - WSLCB, Video - TVW).
    • Board Member Jim Vollendroff wanted to know the difference between investigatory and product holds in terms of impacts on a licensee. Wax replied that license holds stopped all business activity, but product holds allowed licensed operations to continue, provided the contaminated items were collected and disposed of. Additionally, she said “we will be doing at least quarterly tests of the product that's moving out of that area” (audio - 1m, Video - WSLCB, Video - TVW).
    • “What would be the next opportunity then to update,” Postman asked, wondering if she would be informed “when it's destroyed.” Wax remarked that she could update them on that, “or whenever you do that next test,” suggested Postman. Wax said she could confirm when all products were destroyed, or notify the board if subsequent samples “were to come back positive, because this has been kind of a high profile issue” (audio - 1m, Video - TVW).
  • Newly arrived Director Will Lukela gave his first public “report” on his second day on the job (audio - 1m, Video - WSLCB, Video - TVW).
    • Announced as the new WSLCB director on June 1st, Lukela had already drawn some skepticism over his suitability for the role.
    • Lukela described his excitement “to be part of the LCB team, and be able to work with this group.” His first day had been “phenomenal,” and “today [he was] catching steam” as he looked forward to “collaborat[ing] with, with everyone.”
    • Postman joked that Lukela was invited to ensure “you came back for day two,” and voiced his excitement over the transition as well: “staffs’ real excited to get to know you, and you're gonna be bombarded by everybody wanting to get in to see you, so hopefully your support team is triaging that in a way that won't overwhelm too soon.” He invited Lukela to “join us for each caucus and you're always welcome…to share whatever's on your mind” (audio - 1m, Video - WSLCB, Video - TVW).
  • WSLCB employee focus groups were being established, and board members discussed how best to engage staff to receive constructive feedback.
    • Human Resources Director Anita Bingham talked about a 2021 employee survey in May 2022, and discussed the 2022 survey on February 14th.
    • Vollendroff talked about meeting with Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Manager Jim Weatherly and Policy and Performance Manager Jessica Dang to look at how to organize employee focus groups as “a result of the employee satisfaction survey and responding to questions that we want to learn more so that we can become an even better employe[r].” He expected there would be several focus groups convened around the state, some virtual, others in person, and “we've got our first one this week, and I just want to encourage folks to participate, and to let your staff participate, and…I'm asking directors specifically and managers to be proactive and help us recruit people to participate in these events” (audio - 1m,  Video - WSLCB, Video - TVW).
    • Postman stressed the importance of focus group participation, although he believed there would be “great turnout” based on staff input regarding hiring a new director earlier in 2023. He hoped employees feel “pretty open to share their ideas” in focus groups candidly, relating the effort to a “commitment we made last year” to “follow up on the employee engagement survey” (audio - 1m,  Video - WSLCB, Video - TVW).
    • Board Member Ollie Garrett clarified when they’d committed to the focus groups. Vollendroff said the purpose of the gatherings would be to ask questions on issues “we wanted to learn more about, and we're going to ask deeper questions about those.” Postman commented that this was in line with the strategic plan for WSLCB on improving employee satisfaction, but “you just get this question and an answer, and so sometimes” he wondered “why are they dissatisfied with communication” or the specifics of another response. He and Vollendroff agreed that feedback on “outcomes” reported by staff merited further inquiry. Garrett asked if these types of focus groups were limited to WSLCB. Her fellow board members noted they were in strategic plans at other state agencies, but their plans reflected “really a commitment by all of leadership” to having “substantive follow-up with employees” (audio - 4m, Video - WSLCB, Video - TVW).


Segment - 01 - Welcome - David Postman (11s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 02 - Update - Environmental Pesticides Action - Chandra Wax (3m 56s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 03 - Update - Environmental Pesticides Action - Question - License vs. Product Hold - David Postman (1m 11s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 04 - Update - Environmental Pesticides Action - Question - Licensee Impacts - Jim Vollendroff (1m 10s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 05 - Update - Environmental Pesticides Action - Question - Next Update - David Postman (42s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 06 - Update - Rulemaking Petition - Alcohol - Microbrewery Shared Warehouses - Daniel Jacobs (6m 22s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 07 - Update - Rulemaking Petition - Alcohol - Microbrewery Shared Warehouses - Question - Petitioner Goals - Ollie Garrett (2m 41s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 08 - Update - Rulemaking Petition - Alcohol - Microbrewery Shared Warehouses - Question - Potential Negatives - David Postman (3m 47s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 09 - Update - Rulemaking Petition - Alcohol - Microbrewery Shared Warehouses - Question - Petition Process - Jim Vollendroff (49s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 10 - Update - Rulemaking Petition - Alcohol - Microbrewery Shared Warehouses - Question - Microbrewery Exceptionalism - David Postman (1m 59s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 11 - Update - William Lukela (59s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 12 - Update - William Lukela - Comment - David Postman (1m 18s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 13 - Update - Focus Groups - Jim Vollendroff (1m 3s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 14 - Update - Focus Groups - Jim Vollendroff - Comment - David Postman (45s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 15 - Update - Focus Groups - Jim Vollendroff - Question - Staff Initiative - Ollie Garrett (4m 5s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 16 - Update - Dustin Dickson (7s) InfoSet ]
Segment - 17 - Wrapping Up - David Postman (17s) InfoSet ]

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