WSLCB - Board Caucus
(May 11, 2021)

Tuesday May 11, 2021 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Observed
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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 a preview of a presentation to open a broad rulemaking project regulating THC compounds other than delta-9 and denied a petition to move a retail location.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday May 11th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) board caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • A petition to allow a retail cannabis store to move between jurisdictions was denied due to particular concerns about the target jurisdiction and in deference to anticipated recommendations from the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force.
    • Hoffman offered a “recommendation” to the board on a rulemaking petition brought by Emerald Leaves owner Duane Dunn “asking that the board consider...a revision in rules that would allow relocation of his current retail cannabis license” to a different county (audio - 5m).
      • She described how it was possible to move locations within a county “as long as the relocation does not exceed current threshold allotments that are currently in place.” Statute allowed WSLCB to set the maximum number of stores allotted to each county based on population, Hoffman said, “and we aren’t statutorily authorized to raise the cap in one county without a proportionate increase in other counties.” Another law outlining the allotment required the agency to consider medical cannabis patients that registered in the DOH patient database as well, she added. She’d determined that despite the board having “broad rulemaking authority” overall, it did not cover moving licenses “from one county to another.”
      • Hoffman remarked that should the board opt “to consider license relocation through rule, that process would likely take anywhere from nine to 18 months to complete and does not guarantee that local jurisdictions will raise the number of retail licenses allowed based on an increase in LCB license allotment.” She indicated that Renton, where Dunn proposed moving his retail location, had an ordinance limiting the number of allowed stores, all of which were active, and that the agency wasn’t empowered “to require a local jurisdiction to accept license allotments.”
      • Moreover, rulemaking “at this time would be premature," she argued, “given that any increase in the number of retail outlets above the current statewide limit” subsequent to “January 1, 2020 must be approved by the legislature...consistent with social equity task force recommendations.” For these reasons, Hoffman recommended the board deny Dunn’s petition.
      • An “Assessment of LCB rulemaking authority for cannabis retail licenses” previously prepared by WSLCB staff deferred to the potential for changes to retail allotments that could be recommended by the Washington State Legislative Task Force on Social Equity in Cannabis (WA SECTF). The conclusion found that while “LCB has the legal authority to engage in rulemaking to increase the overall license cap pursuant to RCW 69.50.3[4]5(2), any policy change of this nature may hinder the goals of the social equity taskforce, and create further disproportionate industry representation in relation to social equity. To ensure social equity goals are achieved, the LCB should not consider rulemaking to increase the statewide cannabis retail license limits until such time as a recommendation is received from the social equity taskforce, with corresponding legislative approval pursuant to RCW 69.50.336(11) to increase the license cap for the desired purpose.”
        • RCW 69.50.336(11) states: “The board may adopt rules to implement the recommendations of the task force. However, any recommendation to increase the number of retail outlets above the current statewide limit of retail outlets, established by the board before January 1, 2020, must be approved by the legislature.” So while any recommendation from the task force to increase license allotments must first be approved by the legislature, this statute does not contravene the agency’s existing authority to determine license allotments in RCW 69.50.345(2). The Board’s decision to not revisit retail license allotments at this time is a choice made following recommendations by agency staff.
        • Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau was compiling data from the 2020 decennial census and planned to publicly release data to enable state redistricting in August 2021. As “population distribution” was the first criteria listed for consideration when making retail allotments in RCW 69.50.345(2)(a), it would seem that growth of the population of Washington state by nearly 15% over the past 10 years to more than 7.7 million could warrant review by WSLCB.
      • Postman followed up, seeking clarification on whether a petition like Dunn’s could be submitted again following any legislative action on WA SECTF licensing recommendations. Hoffman believed that would be possible (audio - 1m). 
    • Hauge moved to deny the petition and Postman voted to concur with him. Board Member Ollie Garrett was not present for this board caucus and consideration of the petition was not previously published, having been added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting (audio - 2m).

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