The Week Ahead
(November 11, 2019)

A new Voluntary Compliance Program work group convenes, Cannabis Penalties progresses, and emergency action to ban vitamin E acetate in vapor products seems likely.

Here’s a look at cannabis-related policymaking events on Cannabis Observer’s calendars in the week ahead.

Tuesday November 12th

On Tuesday at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the weekly Board Caucus recurs [ agenda ].

  • The Board will be in executive session closed to the public until 11am.

On Tuesday at 1:30pm PT @ WSLCB, the new Voluntary Compliance Program external work group meets for the first time [ agenda ].

  • A component of SB 5318, creation of the compliance program was initiated in July (WSR 19-15-074) and the agency planned to host its first internal work group meeting on Friday October 18th to develop a “collaborative schedule for program development in consultation with marijuana licensees and their employees.”
  • From the invitation email sent to “Cannabis Industry Stakeholders” on October 28th: We are writing to invite you to participate with the Liquor and Cannabis Board in developing state regulations that will outline how a new voluntary compliance program for the industry will be structured and operated.  Under recently enacted legislation, the LCB is required to develop a voluntary compliance program, intended to give cannabis licensees an opportunity to request assistance from our agency in ensuring their business is in compliance with all relevant state laws and regulations, in most circumstances without the risk of receiving a violation just because help was requested and an enforcement officer was asked to review premises or business operations.  In addition to requiring creation of this compliance program, the legislature directed the agency to create the program by rule in consultation with cannabis businesses and their employees.
  • In October, WSLCB Policy and Rules Coordinator Kathy Hoffman expected to bring a CR-102 to the Board in “mid-spring of 2020.”

Wednesday November 13th

On Wednesday at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the bi-weekly Board Meeting recurs [ agenda ].

  • Hoffman will present and ask the Board to adopt proposed rules as defined in a CR-102 for the Cannabis Penalties rulemaking project (WSR 18-22-099). The agency hosted two listen and learn forums on the Cannabis Penalties conceptual draft rules on September 27th and October 31st to elicit stakeholder feedback on the “massively reorganized” penalties. In late October, Hoffman was planning to schedule a public hearing on the CR-102 in early 2020.
  • It’s possible that WSLCB will undertake additional emergency rulemaking to ban vitamin E acetate from vapor products as indicated in the agency’s late Friday announcement released in coordination with the Department of Health. The agency notice follows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement that “Recent CDC laboratory testing of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (or samples of fluid collected from the lungs) from 29 patients with EVALI submitted to CDC from 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all of the BAL fluid samples.”

On Wednesday, the weekly WSLCB Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting has been canceled.

Thursday November 14th

On Thursday at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the monthly Marijuana Traceability Project (MTP) Integrator Work Session recurs. This is not a formal public meeting, but is open to the public.

On Thursday, the WSLCB Marijuana Traceability Project (MTP) Advisory Committee Meeting, currently meeting every other month, has been canceled.

  • Washington state cannabis industry participants may have noted blissfully few (new) reports of issues with MJ Freeway’s Leaf Data Systems after the state decided against pouring additional resources into further development of the troubled traceability system. The ninth amendment to the vendor contract, effective through the end of November, stipulated once again that the “Contractor shall focus its work solely on stabilization of the System Corrections specific to Release 1.37.5.”  It’s Cannabis Observer’s understanding that the State will continue to enforce this constraint on MJ Freeway in future contract amendments to prioritize system stability while methodically addressing well understood issues.
  • Meanwhile, the locus of discussion about the future of cannabis traceability and supply chain transparency has shifted to the relatively new Traceability 2.0 external work group. This work group has met twice, on September 24th and November 4th. This work group is moving slowly to help the State consider revising and scaling back requirements for supply chain awareness and reporting.
  • The Traceability 2.0 external work group is next scheduled to meet on Monday December 9th.

Friday November 15th

On Friday at 9am PT @ the Department of Ecology (DOE), the Cannabis Science Task Force (CSTF) Steering Committee convenes for its fourth public meeting.

  • The CSTF Steering Committee previously met on August 21st, September 27th, and October 18th.
  • The CSTF work groups have had enough time to develop recommendations which have begun to be voted on by the Steering Committee. The motions passed by the CSTF will be incorporated into their first report due to the legislature on July 1, 2020 regarding “lab quality standards for pesticides in plants.”
  • These votes are likely to have far reaching implications for not only cannabis testing laboratories, but their clients as well. For example, this Friday the CSTF will vote on at least five motions, including a new requirement for testing lab clients to provide a second 4-gram sample for chemical/pesticide tests, separate from a 4-gram sample for microbiological tests.
  • While transfer of lab accreditation to the DOE in 2024 remains distant despite legislative and regulatory pressures to expedite the process, decisions made by the CSTF aim to reform the Washington state cannabis industry towards better scientific processes - reforms which may impose new or additional expenses throughout the supply chain.