WSLCB - Board Caucus
(December 11, 2018) - Summary

Five board interim policies entered, but only three left the room...

Here are some observations from the December 11th WSLCB Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Karen McCall, WSLCB Policy and Rules Coordinator, prepared the Board for five board interim policies (BIP) proposed for adoption at Wednesday’s board meeting.  Two of the proposed policies were sent back to agency staff.
    • BIP-06-2018: “Allowing marijuana licensees to spend their own money on their businesses prior to the Board vetting the funds” (audio – 3m).
      • Industry stakeholders have expressed frustration with the requirement that all funds be vetted by WSLCB and the length of time it takes for approval to use their own funds to support their businesses.
      • If adopted, the modified rules will be formally incorporated into the WAC as part of the open rulemaking on true parties of interest.
    • BIP-07-2018: prohibiting marijuana infused product packaging and labeling that resembles alcohol products (audio – 8m).
      • The proposed rules target marijuana infused drinks that resemble cocktails or other alcoholic beverages.
      • It appears the provenance of this proposed policy change was WSLCB Licensing and Regulation.
    • BIP-08-2018: additional prohibitions against claims of “curative or therapeutic effects” on all cannabis packaging, labeling, advertisements, and promotional items (audio – 13m).
      • The Board expressed surprise at this interim policy proposed by WSLCB Licensing and Regulation.
      • Board Member Ollie Garrett raised her concern that the discussion about packaging and labeling of marijuana infused edibles had expanded in scope to include all cannabis products without the Board’s consent. Board Chair Rushford and Member Hauge strongly concurred.
      • Member Garrett: ‘When I hear the comment, “We are doing this because we think it will be helpful to the industry” without any outreach…is there something we’re missing?’
      • The Board agreed to hold this policy for additional review inclusive of stakeholder engagement.
    • BIP-09-2018: redefining prohibitions on marijuana infused edible (MIE) products deemed especially appealing to children (audio – 7m).
      • The proposed policy is one of two major MIE rule changes emerging from the agency’s unusual engagement with industry and prevention community stakeholders over the past few months.
      • Although the substance of the BIP would have rewritten WAC 314-55-077 (9), the Board’s conversation did not progress past removal of the term “throughout” in relation to homogeneous distribution of cannabinoids.
      • Member Hauge on spraying finished products with cannabinoids: ‘When this issue first came up it was explained to me that “Oh no, we can’t do that because it’s bad.” And now it’s good. …If we’re changing our mind, I’d just like to know a little bit more reasons why.’
      • The Board agreed to hold this policy for additional review.
    • BIP-10-2018: restricted packaging and labeling colors and product shapes for marijuana infused products (audio – 7m).
      • MIE packages and labels would be restricted to 3 accent colors or gradients from a list of sixteen approved colors.
      • Background and lettering color combinations would be prescribed and limited to three choices.
      • A full color photo of the product and company logos would be permitted.
      • Packaging with a clear window would be allowed.
      • MIE product shapes would be restricted to a list of approved shapes.
      • The Board asserted this interim policy would apply only to edibles while conveying the likelihood of the policy’s expansion to all cannabis products through future rulemaking.  The board interim policy as publicly released on Monday stated, “The following requirements apply to all marijuana packaging, labeling, and products.”
    • Board interim policies approved at Wednesday’s board meeting become effective immediately with a deadline for formal rulemaking inclusive of public notice and opportunities for input by January 2020.
    • A webinar will be held on December 18th to introduce adopted rule changes.
  • Member Hauge led a brief conversation about consistency of enforcement against traceability violators (audio – 7m).
  • Member Hauge confirmed the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington is interested in meeting when the Board travels to Spokane in early January. The U.S. Attorney and his staff may attend the planned Board meeting (audio – 3m).