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.
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.
- 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.
- The last rulemaking update covered by Cannabis Observer was on September 15th.
- Quality Control (QC) Testing and Product Requirements (Rulemaking Project, audio - <1m). Policy and Rules Coordinator Casey Schaufler told board members that staff had prepared a supplemental CR-102 for consideration at the Wednesday September 30th board meeting which included “an amended small business economic impact statement (SBEIS) and significant analysis.”
- Consultation and Education Program (Rulemaking Project, audio - <1m). After a quiet public hearing on September 16th, Schaufler said the agency had received no comments and would present final rules to the Board for adoption on September 30th.
- Tier 1 Expansion (Rulemaking Project, audio - 1m). Schaufler indicated that a survey of tier 1 licensees had accrued 84 responses to date, and staff would attempt “to expand that survey to an additional targeted response from licensees who did not respond.” He explained that public comment at the two listen and learn sessions “will help to inform LCB staff on next steps.” Schaufler added the survey may be provided to “additional recipients.”
- HB 2826 Implementation (Rulemaking Project, audio - <1m). Schaufler reminded the Board that the second listen and learn session on the rulemaking project would be held later that day. He said the rulemaking project was “on track and I anticipate bringing a CR-102 for consideration in December.”
- The first listen and learn forum was hosted on September 1st.
- Location Compliance Certificates (WSR 20-15-043, audio - 1m). Schaufler told the group that the CR-102, which had been forecast for September 30th, would be “pushed back two weeks to accommodate additional internal review.” His new timeline for the project was “on or after October 14th.”
- 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.
Complete Audio - Cannabis Observer
[ InfoSet ]
Audio - 03 - Alcohol Impact Area Review - Spokane Downtown - Brent DeBeaumont (6m 11s; Sep 29, 2020) [ Info ]
Audio - 04 - Rulemaking Updates - Alcohol - Audrey Vasek (10m 34s; Sep 29, 2020) [ Info ]
Audio - 07 - Rulemaking Updates - Cannabis - Tier 1 Expansion - Casey Schaufler (53s; Sep 29, 2020) [ Info ]
Audio - 08 - Rulemaking Updates - Cannabis - HB 2826 Implementation - Casey Schaufler (28s; Sep 29, 2020) [ Info ]
Audio - 09 - Rulemaking Updates - Cannabis - Location Compliance Certificates - Casey Schaufler (42s; Sep 29, 2020) [ Info ]