WSLCB - Board Caucus
(September 29, 2020)

Tuesday September 29, 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.

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During a characteristically brief caucus, members were prepared for formal rulemaking at the following day’s board meeting and evinced the agency’s focus on social equity in October.

  • Policy and Rules Coordinator Casey Schaufler concisely explained the Board would be asked to approve the highly anticipated supplemental CR-102 for the Quality Control Testing and Product Requirements rulemaking project (audio < 1m) and the CR-103 for the Consultation and Education rulemaking project (audio < 1m) at the Wednesday September 30th board meeting.
  • Board Member Ollie Garrett was not particularly forthcoming about her feelings in advance of the first WSLCB BIPOC Engagement later that day, only saying she was “looking forward to it, looking forward to hearing from the community” (audio < 1m).  The other board members expressed eagerness to hear updates later in October.

Filling in the blanks on a perfunctory caucus meeting, we spotlight the WSLCB’s social equity efforts, rulemaking updates, and the resurrection of Cannabis 2.0.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday September 29th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • The Board briefly touched on the WSLCB’s social equity endeavors, in particular an impending engagement with black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities.
    • For months, WSLCB’s board and staff had been planning a series of public outreach events to hear social equity concerns about Washington’s cannabis industry and bolster the agency’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The first outreach event was scheduled to occur later that Tuesday evening.
      • Board Member Ollie Garrett last talked about WSLCB’s BIPOC engagements, which were prompted by the passage of HB 2870, at the September 15th and September 1st board caucuses.
    • The agency had been collaborating with the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs (CAAA) on the outreach events. CAAA Commissioner Paula Sardinas and Garrett were invited speakers at the City of Seattle Cannabis Equity in Our Community forum on February 22nd. Sardinas subsequently coordinated with Director Rick Garza and agency staff on the implementation of HB 2870 and the agency’s BIPOC outreach.
      • Sardinas last publicly addressed the Board over licensee concerns during the September 16th board meeting.
      • On September 25th during a public meeting of the CAAA, Senator Bob Hasegawa discussed potential legislation regarding a state bank (audio - 15m). Sardinas, a former lobbyist for the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), remarked that the idea could address some security risks retailers faced as cash-focused businesses, and build upon 2018 cannabis banking legislation, SB 5298. She claimed state credit unions were “at their capacity” in supporting legal cannabis banking (audio - 5m).
    • The agency’s BIPOC engagements were separate from and complementary to the Washington State Legislative Task Force on Social Equity in Marijuana which Garrett and Sardinas were appointed to. WSLCB was expected to support the task force’s work, which would include definition of application criteria for 34 available retail licenses.
    • Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson briefed the Washington State Senate Labor and Commerce Committee (WA Senate LBRC) during a work session the day before the caucus on the agency’s heightened social equity focus before fielding questions on the topic from committee members (audio - 8m).
    • At the caucus, Garrett was asked about the outreach events by Board Chair Jane Rushford, and tersely responded she was “looking forward to hearing from the community” (audio - 1m).
      • In subsequent updates, Board Member Russ Hauge asked Garrett if the Board would hear about the first BIPOC engagement at the October 6th board caucus. Garrett said she was open to discussing it, adding that staff were still debating whether the meeting would be recorded by the agency for review by the other board members (audio - 3m).
      • During her own update, Rushford said she intended to schedule a “mid-October” Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting “devoted primarily to updates on the social equity experience and outcomes” of the three scheduled BIPOC engagements now that agency leadership had resumed hosting EMT meetings on a monthly cadence.
  • Policy and Rules staff reported the status of cannabis rulemaking projects, including the imminent filing of a quality control supplemental CR-102 and adoption of final rules establishing a licensee consultation and education program.
  • Board Chair Jane Rushford briefly mentioned hosting a successful Cannabis 2021 meeting the previous week, having invited “everyone with a director or managerial role in cannabis to the table.”
    • She promised a more thorough update “soon” (audio - 1m).
    • Cannabis 2021 was a rebranding of the agency’s Cannabis 2.0 initiative, a name change Rushford first acknowledged on August 4th. The goal of the original initiative was to increase communication and collaboration amongst state agencies involved in creating or enforcing cannabis regulations. Cannabis 2.0 was last mentioned on July 16th and had not been discussed at length since November 2019.

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