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 prepared a response to legislative intent to restructure the WSLCB’s penalty system and contemplated the addition of two Board members.
Here are some observations from the January 22nd Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.
My top 4 takeaways:
- Policy and Rules Coordinator Kathy Hoffman presented the Board with a draft response to a letter from legislators regarding a bill which would restructure the WSLCB’s penalty system (audio – 9m).
- The letter, dated January 2nd from Senators Rivers and Palumbo and Representatives Stanford and Vick, was a “precursor” to SB 5318 and HB 1237.
- The WSLCB response addresses penalties for violations concerning “youth access, hidden ownership, or diversion with potential for criminal activity.”
- Board Chair Jane Rushford felt the response should be more specific on traceability violations as some are simple administrative violations while others are “egregious.”
- The WSLCB currently has an open rulemaking on cannabis penalties (WSR 18-22-099) but the scope of the companion bills appears to be significantly larger.
- Rushford gave a brief review of her experience testifying with Director Rick Garza at the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee public hearing for HB 5296 “designed to expand [WSLCB’s] rulemaking authority for alcohol” (audio – 5m).
- Notably, the bill would increase the number of WSLCB board members from three to five.
- The two new ex-officio, non-voting members would be the Chair of the House Commerce and Gaming Committee and the Chair of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, the legislative committees which handle the majority of bills regarding the WSLCB. Senator Keiser, the current Chair of the Commerce and Labor Committee, is the sole sponsor of HB 5296.
- Rushford admitted there are “legitimate” concerns that the WSLCB does not have the bandwidth to take on more rulemaking.
- Rushford emphasized a concern for meeting quorum as legislators would have a difficult time attending meetings due to their legislative obligations.
- At the January 2nd Executive Management Team meeting, Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson mentioned Senator Keiser planned to meet with Garza to work with him on HB 5296.
- The Board reflected on the January 16th WSLCB Cannabis Advisory Council (CAC) meeting (audio – 6m).
- Both Rushford and Board Member Ollie Garrett felt the meeting “went well” and the conversation was “robust.”
- Garrett said she had subsequently heard from labs interested in becoming members of the council and Angel Swanson confirmed she would still represent the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA).
- Garrett stressed the importance of including all groups representative of the industry and highlighted The Cannabis Alliance for sending an email to their members before each CAC meeting to ask for input.
- Rushford opened the conversation to ask observers Lukas Hunter, Director of Compliance for Harmony Farms, and Julia Lee, Operations Manager for The Cannabis Alliance, to help identify additional groups that can be invited to the conversation.
- Hoffman prepared the Board to adopt the CR-102 for mandatory marijuana signage rules at the January 23rd board meeting (audio – 6m).
- Packaging and labeling rules that went into effect January 1, 2019 removed mandatory language regarding the use of marijuana during pregnancy from cannabis product accompanying materials.
- The open rulemaking will amend the rules for mandatory signage on licensed premises.
- There have been no comments submitted on this proposed rule change so far.
- Enforcement has expanded the scope of distribution of these signs from just retailers to include producers and processors as well.
- There will be no cost to licensees for the signs produced by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).