WSLCB - Board Caucus
(September 15, 2020)

Tuesday September 15, 2020 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM Observed

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.

Engagement Options

Phone

Number: 1.415.655.0001
Pin: 133 151 1912

Observations

In addition to rulemaking updates, WSLCB Board Member Ollie Garrett shared that the agency’s outreach to BIPOC communities would be diminished from five meetings to three, and the Cannabis Advisory Council would not meet as planned.

  • During her update, WSLCB Board Member Ollie Garrett discussed the agency’s plans for engagement with black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities prompted by the passage of HB 2870. During the September 1st Board Caucus, Garrett listed a series of five virtual meetings that had been scheduled to comprise the agency’s engagement with “communities of color.” The number of engagements had been subsequently diminished to three (audio - 2m).
  • Garrett also indicated that the agency’s Cannabis Advisory Council (CAC), which she sponsors on behalf of the Board, would not be meeting as planned on September 30th.  Instead, members would be invited to attend one of the BIPOC engagements and then suggest topics for discussion at a later date.

Board members prepared for rulemaking on Wednesday, diminished planned outreach to BIPOC communities, and confirmed EMT would resume after 7 months of silence.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday September 15th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Policy and Rules staff provided a rulemaking update and prepared the Board for a public hearing on the proposed Education and Consultation Program as well as extension of on-going emergency rules regarding vitamin E acetate.
    • The last rulemaking update was at the September 2nd board meeting.
    • Education and Consultation Program (Rulemaking Project, audio - <1m). Policy and Rules Coordinator Casey Schaufler told board members proposed changes would receive a public hearing at the following day’s board meeting and that “no comments have been received to date.”
    • Prohibition - Vitamin E Acetate (audio - 1m). Schaufler confirmed that the next day’s board meeting would include a request for the Board to extend several emergency rules passed on May 27th pertaining to the compound’s prohibition in cannabis vapor products. He outlined extensions to emergency rules that would be presented for approval:
    • Quality Control (QC) Testing and Product Requirements (WSR 20-03-176, audio - <1m). On September 1st, Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman confirmed a supplemental CR-102 would be filed to revise the QC proposed rules. Schaufler commented that board consideration of the revised proposal remained on track for September 30th and would “include an amended small business economic impact statement and significant analysis.”
    • Tier 1 Expansion (Rulemaking Project, audio - 1m). A survey of tier 1 licensees “regarding their business experiences” was sent to 179 “recipients” of which 84 “completed the survey.” Schaufler explained that “using this survey data along with public comment at the two listen and learn sessions will help to inform LCB staff on next steps forward.”
    • HB 2826 Implementation (Rulemaking Project, audio - 1m). Following the initial listen and learn forum hosted on September 1st, Schaufler confirmed a second event would be held September 29th. The second session would cover “draft conceptual rules for our new proposed section 314-55-5501” and discussion on “a marijuana vapor product ingredients disclosure form.” He stated that “meeting materials for the second session will be sent out this week.”
    • Location Compliance Certificates (WSR 20-15-043, audio - <1m). Schaufler said the rulemaking project was “unchanged” since his last update and agency staff continued to accept public comments on the draft conceptual rules WSLCB released on August 10th. He added that staff had gotten eight responses so far, and “we anticipate presenting the CR-102 proposal on or after September 30th.”
    • True Party of Interest (TPI, Rulemaking Project, audio - 3m). Hoffman explained that recently adopted rule changes for true parties of interest had been published in the Washington State Register and would take effect October 3rd. She reminded board members that they approved an interim policy in December 2018, BIP 06-2018, regarding “allowing marijuana licensees to spend their own money on their businesses prior to the Board vetting the funds.” Hoffman said “now that the true party of interest rules have been adopted and will go into effect early next month, at the board meeting on the 14th of October I do plan on asking you to rescind this board interim policy because it is no longer necessary.”
  • Board Member Ollie Garrett reported a reduction in the number of social equity outreach events the agency would host and said the agency’s Cannabis Advisory Council (CAC) members may be invited to attend an outreach event in lieu of their scheduled meeting.
  • The agency’s Executive Management Team (EMT) was expected to resume meeting this week after cancelling 30 consecutive public meetings over the past seven months.
    • Cannabis Observer tracks EMT cancellations in our Week Ahead coverage, noting earlier in the week that ‘the last 30 regularly scheduled EMT meetings have been cancelled. The EMT last convened on Wednesday February 12th. At the August 4th caucus, Rushford said EMT meetings would be renewed in September and run "once a month" through the end of the year (audio - 3m).’
    • Rushford offered, “given the attention required and desirable, actually, for allowances and other more immediate concerns to support our licensees during the pandemic shutdown, we invested the time that we had in reviewing what was possible there and being very attentive to the requests that we were getting.” However, WSLCB was “in a different place now” and “it’s time to, you know, rekindle the activities that we’ve had. So, I look forward to [Wednesday]’s meeting” (audio - 1m).
      • Rushford represented the Board on the agency’s internal COVID Legal/Policy/Rules meetings established in March to address issues and create new policies referred to as “allowances” during the pandemic. After learning about the existence of these closed-door meetings, Cannabis Observer began to use public records requests to methodically ask for documentation - but very little information has been produced.
      • An example of policymaking in the dark was provided later this same day when the agency quietly updated the COVID-19 Guidance for Cannabis Licensees to lift a restriction on the retail curbside service allowance. The constraint that “IDs must be checked -- no one in the car may be less than 21 years of age” was shortened to “IDs must be checked.” Earlier, the agency expanded the original allowance for curbside service beyond medical cannabis patients to all adults, but had begun to receive pushback from advocates in the prevention community during two recent board meetings. At publication time, Cannabis Observer was not aware of the source of the request to modify the curbside service allowance nor agency plans to notify retailers of the published policy change.
    • The agenda for the upcoming EMT meeting indicated a wide range of topics would be presented for discussion by board members and agency leadership in a public context:
      • Regulator’s Roundtable Summary and Director’s Update
      • Budget and General Agency Update
      • Legislative Update
      • Social Equity
      • Enforcement Update
      • Cannabis Advisory Council Agenda
      • September/October Board Calendar

Information Set