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 discussed their representation at a federal law enforcement meeting and Regulators Roundtable, then discussed minority participation in the cannabis industry.
Here are some observations from the May 22nd WSLCB Board Caucus.
My top 3 takeaways:
- Board Member Russ Hauge attended a meeting of law enforcement agencies, associations, and task forces organized by the Department of Justice and the US Attorneys for Western and Eastern Washington (transcript, audio).
- Discussion focused on whether and to what extent US Attorneys will assist in black market cases. Member Hauge believes the Western District of Washington sees cannabis cases as low priority. He recounted a response by Governor Inslee to federal officials who suggested greater funding for local enforcement: “Our state just passed a balanced budget with increases for the State Patrol and LCB. The federal government is operating on a deficit budget that benefits the 1%. Don’t tell us we have to be spending even more.”
- The meeting did not result in any policy or positional changes by the federal government, but enabled networking and demonstrated cooperation.
- The Washington Traffic Safety Commission presented a graph purporting to show cannabis found in the deconstruction of traffic fatalities. Member Hauge recounted how he called out flaws in the reported data.
- Board Member Hauge attended the semi-annual Regulators Roundtable in Denver (transcript, audio).
- Member Hauge observed how other states with a regulated medical cannabis system talk about medical and recreational cannabis in different ways. He thinks there is work to be done in Washington state to provide better access for medical patients: “It’s not enough to say well, you know, we’ve got the adult use stores out there, that’s enough. Well, I think we do have an obligation to go further.”
- The WSLCB’s compacts with tribal governments are garnering attention from state regulators as a uniquely successful aspect of Washington’s marketplace.
- WSLCB Chair Jane Rushford suggested Board Member Ollie Garrett represent the WSLCB Board at the next Regulators Roundtable.
- Board Member Garrett discussed her desire to encourage minority participation in the Washington marketplace (transcript, audio).
- Feedback at Board Meetings and the Cannabis Advisory Council is encouraging Member Garrett to investigate setting up a working group.
- Chair Rushford stated that enhancing licensee applicant business acumen was outside the scope of the WSLCB’s remit, but the Department of Commerce could help.
- Chair Rushford and Member Hauge believe the WSLCB needs to better understand and potentially limit production in Washington state before considering opening up licensing again, wherein any kind of equity program would then become applicable.