WA Senate - Session - Morning
(March 9, 2021)

Tuesday March 9, 2021 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM Observed
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The Washington State Senate (WA Senate) convenes sessions to read, debate, amend, and vote on legislation.

Second and Third Reading

  • SB 5372 - "Concerning a hemp processor registration process."


Legislation creating a voluntary hemp processor certification was unanimously passed by the Senate after adopting a striking amendment empowering WSLCB to test hemp found on licensed premises.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday March 9th Washington State Senate (WA Senate) morning session.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Legislation establishing a hemp processor certification administered by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) was scheduled for the WA Senate floor.
    • SB 5372 ("Concerning a hemp processor registration process") would mandate that WSDA expand the hemp program to certify processors. The bill report stated that a hemp processor “is defined as a person who takes possession of raw hemp material with the intent to modify, package, or sell a transitional or finished hemp product.”
    • On February 2nd, SB 5372 received a public hearing in the Washington State Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources, and Parks Committee (WA Senate AWNP) and was recommended for passage by the committee on February 4th despite a no vote from Senator Jim Honeyford.
    • On February 10th, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Director of Legislative Affairs Chris Thompson discussed the interest of agency staff in having the bill amended during an Executive Management Team meeting (audio - 3m).
      • Thompson said SB 5372 was for “hemp industry participants to process hemp and get registered” but certification wouldn’t be required “to reflect federal law which doesn’t require it.” Thompson told the Board and agency leaders he expected many people would “choose to get registered so that they can conduct interstate commerce.”
        • After a lengthy rulemaking process, the final federal rule on the “Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program” would go into effect on March 22nd.
      • Thompson allowed that the agency had no “role in overseeing or regulating hemp, but current law allows...an individual to both produce or process cannabis and hemp at the same location.” WSLCB staff had concerns “with current law and Senator [Derek] Stanford’s bill presents an opportunity to, to fix the concern,” he said, “where today LCB is not able to ensure compliance by our cannabis licensees if they’re also engaged with hemp.” The idea of an amendment had been presented to Stanford, Thompson said, “and he’s open to this,” noting WSDA was “also working with stakeholders on this.” He expected to see a “senate floor amendment” on the subject.
      • At the January 6th WSLCB Cannabis Advisory Council (CAC), one licensee called on the agency to develop “a way to manage how hemp and [cannabidiol] CBD products are coming into this industry.” WSLCB staff had drafted a policy statement on delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which indicated “CBD isolate from hemp sources that is chemically synthesized into delta-8 and delta-9 THC would both be considered synthetic cannabinoids under RCW 69.50.204, and may not be produced or processed in licensed Washington State facilities, nor may they be sold in licensed I-502 retail stores.” Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman planned to accept stakeholder feedback on the statement until February 22nd. On March 9th, Board Member Russ Hauge said he planned to continue working with Director of Policy and External Affairs Justin Nordhorn on the agency’s delta-8 policy position “to figure out whether it's a big deal or not" (audio - 1m).
    • On March 5th, a majority of senators voted to pull SB 5372 onto the WA Senate calendar for second reading, relieving the Washington State Senate Rules Committee (WA Senate RULE) of further consideration. At publication time, no fiscal analysis of the legislation was publicly accessible.
  • SB 5372 was brought up for a second reading and a striking amendment was adopted which would authorize the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to test hemp found at marijuana producer and/or processor locations.
    • Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck, the Washington Senate President, asked the Senate Clerk to give the bill’s second reading (audio - <1m, video) and called attention to Amendment 427 “by Senator Stanford, a striking amendment” which included several changes to SB 5372 (audio - <1m, video):
      • The amendment would allow WSLCB “to test samples represented as hemp obtained from a location licensed for marijuana production or processing for the sole purpose of validating THC content.”
      • Defines ‘hemp extract’ and “Provides that until hemp extract is federally authorized for use as a food ingredient, hemp extract is not an approved food ingredient in the state.”
      • “Allows a hemp processor to obtain a hemp extract certification to allow its use as a food ingredient in another state that allows the use of hemp extract as a food ingredient.” 
      • Requires WSDA “to regulate hemp extract processing the same as other food processing, with certain exceptions, and allows WSDA to adopt rules specific to hemp extract certification.”
    • Stanford moved for adoption of the amendment (audio - <1m, video) and Senator Judy Warnick reported the minority caucus supported Stanford’s proposed changes to the bill (audio - <1m, video).
    • Heck opened up a roll call vote on the amendment, commenting that the “ayes have it, the amendment is adopted” (audio - <1m, video).
  • As the bill was moved to third reading and final passage, remarks revealed agreement between both parties on the legislation which received support from the entire Senate.
    • Stanford argued “hemp processors in our state would like to export their products...that’s money coming into our state and jobs here.” However, since other states “have requirements now for registration and certification,” the bill was a chance for lawmakers to implement “a program to allow those on a voluntary basis” for processors aiming to export products (audio - 1m, video).
    • Warnick called for support of the legislation as it stood to “help the growers of hemp and the processors...it’s been a well-worked bill” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Heck asked for a roll call vote after which staff reported unanimous passage of SB 5372 (audio - 2m, video).
    • The bill was sent to the Washington State House of Representatives (WA House) to be introduced on Thursday March 11th and referred to the Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee (WA House COG). Under the legislative cutoff calendar, bills in the opposite chamber must be given a public hearing by a policy committee and recommended for passage no later than March 26th. 

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