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.
Members prepared to undertake formal rulemaking at the WSLCB’s first remote board meeting on Wednesday morning and met the agency’s new Policy and Rules Coordinators.
Here are some observations from the Tuesday May 26th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.
My top 3 takeaways:
- Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman brought the Board up to speed on the agency’s rulemaking projects to prepare for the following day’s board meeting.
- Hoffman’s most recent rulemaking update was on May 12th.
- Emergency Rulemaking - Vitamin E Acetate Prohibition (audio - 2m). Hoffman explained that she’d be addressing expiring emergency rules “responding to vapor-related lung injury” at the Wednesday May 27th Board Meeting.
- Four emergency rules around the ban on usage of vitamin E acetate in vapor products were revised and extended by the Board on February 5th and set to expire “on or about June 4th.”
- Regarding WAC 314-35 non-tetrahydrocannabinol (non-THC) vapor products, she planned to “request that those rules be rescinded.” Hoffman said the agency would not extend those emergency rules as “as we didn’t get any authority in this last legislative session to move this forward in any way.”
- SB 6254, request legislation from the Governor and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) regarding non-THC vapor products, was not passed by lawmakers.
- The Washington State Board of Health (SBOH) was in the process of formalizing rules to more permanently ban vitamin E acetate from vapor products after renewing their original emergency rule on March 11th.
- Turning to “a whole lot of activity on marijuana,” Hoffman said WSLCB could move ahead with a ban on vitamin E acetate in THC vapor products owing to passage of HB 2826 which was signed into law on March 25th. First, the agency would rescind existing emergency rules. One emergency rule, on vapor product ingredient disclosure, would be immediately renewed under new authority from the adopted legislation. The other two would also be extended to enable enforcement of the ban in relation to processors and retailers, but would be based on WSLCB’s “own ban on vitamin E acetate” instead of a prohibition from SBOH (audio - 2m).
- Quality Control (QC) Testing and Product Requirements (audio - 2m). Hoffman restated her intention to re-file the rescinded CR-102 and ask the Board to restart rulemaking. She indicated “the only change we’re making is to extend the timeline out on this...out by about three months,” adding there were “no substantive changes made to the rules at all.” Hoffman said that the original Significant Legislative Rule Analysis had been amended with information detailing why the agency needed to re-file, as “there was no way we could’ve had a public hearing on [March] 18th or April 1st” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- See “Need for Withdrawal of Original CR102 Proposal” on page 6 of the amended Significant Legislative Rule Analysis.
- Open Rulemaking Projects (audio - 2m). The Board opted to wait for the next day’s board meeting to hear a full rulemaking update, with Board Member Russ Hauge observing that Hoffman’s “Rules in Progress Table” shared at the April 28th Board Caucus “answers all my questions.” Hoffman outlined her intention to “look at what we have open that we can fold legislative changes into now rather than opening new rules.” She spoke of WSLCB entering a “strategic rulemaking mode” for future rule reforms while adapting to changes from COVID-19.
- The new Policy and Rules Coordinators at the agency were formally introduced to and welcomed by the Board, speaking to some of their earlier work experience.
- The hiring of Audrey Vasek and Casey Schaufler was first mentioned by Hoffman on May 12th. Both assisted Hoffman during the May 20th Listen and Learn Forum on the true parties of interest (TPI) rulemaking project.
- Hoffman invited the new members of her team to “give a little background” (audio - <1m).
- Vasek told board members that she was “very excited” to be at WSLCB after previously working for the Office of the Code Reviser (OCR) where she became familiar “with bill drafting” and the Washington State House of Representatives Office of Program Research (OPR) where she performed bill analysis. “I’m looking forward to applying the skills I learned there,” Vasek said (audio - 2m).
- Schaufler served as a Senior Healthcare Policy Analyst at the Washington State Healthcare Authority (HCA) focused on “medicaid policy, particularly for justice-involved individuals” and “homeless populations.” Before that, he’d worked for the City of Olympia’s “homeless response team” and had worked alongside Hoffman at DOH in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). Hoffman added that she’d undertaken "really challenging work" with Schaufler as part of DOH’s "drug takeback program" (audio - 3m).
- Board Chair Jane Rushford welcomed both new hires warmly, saying she was “eager” to sit down with both of them in person although “it's going to be a while.”
- Board Member Ollie Garrett reported she would be joining a conference call later in the day with several parties interested in the legislatively created Marijuana Social Equity Task Force.
- Garrett reported that she’d be participating in a call with stakeholders involved in the task force initiated as part of HB 2870 when it was signed into law on March 31st. Garrett's role as WSLCB’s designee to the task force was formalized at the April 28th Board Caucus.
- Garrett said she’d be speaking with (audio - 1m):
- Will Hausa, Washington State Commission on African American Affairs (CAAA) Chairman
- Paula Sardinas, CAAA Commissioner
- Sheri Sawyer, Washington State Office of the Governor Senior Policy Advisor, General Government
- Chris Thompson, WSLCB Director of Legislative Relations
- Garrett mentioned briefing Housa in support of HB 2870 at the February 11th Board Caucus. She joined Sardinas on stage during the February 22nd Cannabis Equity in Our Community Forum in Seattle. Garrett credited Thompson and Sardinas for helping pass HB 2870 during the March 10th Board Caucus. And she indicated she continued to have calls about the task force “weekly” with Director Rick Garza and stakeholders at the April 28th Board Caucus.
- Section 5 of the session law describes the task force’s purpose, composition, and constraints including a statutory requirement that the entity be organized and hold its first meeting by July 1st. The Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities, convened and staffed by the SBOH, remained responsible for staffing and initiating the task force.