The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) convenes a meeting of the three-member Board every two weeks to consider formal rulemaking actions and hear public testimony.
The Board approved all five interim policies and got an earful from eastern Washington stakeholders.
Here are some observations from the Wednesday January 9th WSLCB Board Meeting. This meeting was convened at Spokane City Hall as part of a coordinated agency visit to eastern Washington.
Cannabis Observer extends our thanks to Joe Rammell of New Day Cannabis for observing and recording the WSLCB board meeting in Spokane in person. While WSLCB attempted to broadcast the meeting using their webinar platform, the audio was largely indecipherable and spotty. WSLCB made no attempt to broadcast a Periscope video of the proceeding. If you are interested in becoming a Cannabis Observer in your local jurisdiction, contact us.
My top 3 takeaways:
- The Board adopted all five proposed board interim policies (BIPs) as presented without discussion.
- BIP-08-2018, which further prohibits claims of curative or therapeutic effects on cannabis products or advertising, elicited several public comments.
- David LaMoureau of Satori (audio – 3m) stated, “I feel, from a medical standpoint, that it’s really difficult for us already to communicate effectively with our patients about some of the therapeutic benefits that cannabis may have for their medical needs.” LaMoureau indicated recent studies in Washington state suggest half of recreational consumer usage may be medical in nature.
- Joe Rammell of New Day Cannabis (audio – 3m) welcomed marketplace adjustments which appear to increase the economic viability of medically-compliant cannabis products but expressed concern about the ability to communicate accurate product information to patients: “I would encourage you and we’re making ourselves available to work with you and the Department of Health to come up with some language [for BIP-08-2018] that is meaningful – but more fair.” Rammell described impacts of the language restriction on customers new to medical cannabis: “…it really handcuffs us, especially for those customers that are just experiencing medical marijuana for the first time – my age group. They go in and they want to have accurate information—they’re already fearful of just being in a marijuana store—and they’re fearful of not getting the right product. And this is happening all over.”
- General public comments were numerous and wide ranging.
- Toni Nersesian of Palouse Farms (audio – 5m) requested a refund of this year’s license fee on behalf of all licensees: “Leaf launched, and it did things to our lives that no people should ever have done in their business lives across the board.” She cited the Gartner Report as providing the proof required by WSLCB to take a request to the legislature to issue refunds. Her comments provoked the first applause of the day.
- Linda Thompson of the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council and the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention (WASAVP) commented during the vapor products rules public hearing (audio – 2m) and during general public comments (audio – 3m). Thompson used both opportunities to advocate for more funding for the prevention community: “…the Youth Marijuana Prevention Education Program, which is through the Department of Health, was supposed to get up to 10% of the excise tax dollars to help with prevention. And they are getting 2.8% which means for a six county region here we get $250,000. Which to my organization, a non-profit for community education, gets $12,000 to cover six counties for a year. That was not the intent of the balance of prevention, treatment, and the system working together to make this system work.”
- Crystal Oliver, Executive Director of the Washington Sungrowers Industry Association (WSIA) first spoke in support of new vapor products rules prohibiting the sale of CBD vapor products (audio – 1m). During general public comments, Oliver spoke about widespread confusion and inefficiencies created in the marketplace by the WSLCB’s recent spate of regulatory changes (audio – 4m). She reported communication with WSLCB’s packaging and labeling staff who confirmed inclusion of WSDA’s certified cannabis endorsement on edibles would count against a product’s three accent color limit defined in BIP-10-2018.
- Mark Collins of Wicked Weed (audio – 3m) spoke to unanticipated consequences of BIP-07-2018’s approach to controlling conflation of cannabis and alcohol products using the example of their cultivar named “Mimosa” after the flower, not the mixed drink. He asked how WSLCB would interpret the interim policy if alcohol products are named after cannabis cultivars.
- Stephanie Lamb of Blue Roots Cannabis (audio – 4m) reinforced Collins testimony by mentioning the cultivars “Champagne” and “Champagne Kush” and asked if the policy should be constrained to liquid infused edibles. Lamb suggested the creation of a Marijuana Infused Edibles (MIE) Advisory Board: “A lot of the people I talk to at the LCB have no idea what I do. I ‘magic the weed into food.’ …the disconnect between the understanding of the processes and government officials that don’t partake, don’t know anything – I would love to explain more.”
- Steve Walser of Buddy Boy Farms (audio – 4m) called out “…the original sin of the Liquor Control Board was blowing past that two million square foot canopy limit.” To mitigate the damage overproduction has wrought, Walser persuasively advocated for cannabis tasting rooms for farmers: “On a winery we can have three tasting rooms around the state – don’t have to be on the farm. We can sell our wares as well as other farmers’ wares in those tasting rooms. We can have a little food. It gives us a way to expose ourselves to the public and get the retail price.”