WSLCB - Special Board Caucus
(July 18, 2018) - Summary

Board members reviewed accomplishments and set their priorities for the coming year.

Here are some observations from last Wednesday’s Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Special Board Caucus convened for a Board planning meeting. The purpose of this annual meeting is for board members to review goals from the previous year’s planning meeting, acknowledge accomplishments, and identify measurable goals for the coming year.

My top two takeaways:

  • The Board Members shared accomplishments from the past year (transcript, audio).
    • Board Members feel they have “done a great job on getting the industry comfortable with the LCB, comfortable with knowing that [they] are accessible”  and building a positive perception of the agency by being inclusive and paying attention to input received from industry. Member Ollie Garrett pointed out there remains some confusion about the distinction between “the Board” (comprised of part-time, appointed officials) and the Liquor and Cannabis Board as an agency.
    • The Board agreed they operate well as a team, with Chair Rushford stating, “We’ve really relied on [Member] Russ [Hauge] to represent this Board given his deep roots in the law enforcement community and, and his legal experience and that’s been very effective. I think that’s another thing that we’ve done as a Board is we’ve really leveraged where we have unique talents and tried to make that work for all of us.”
    • The Board feels they have increased stakeholder access across a more level playing field.  Member Garrett recalled the increase in communication after “[Board Member] emails got listed on the website” and Chair Rushford highlighted efforts to “integrate fair approaches, even with [the] timer at Board Meetings.”
  • The Board Members identified four priorities for the next year.
    • Medical Cannabis: The Board expressed their intent to learn about and improve prospects for medical cannabis in Washington state within the bounds of their authority, and to influence other agencies and legislators given the opportunity presented by the interim study (transcript, audio, meeting note).
      • Member Hauge: “… we talk about medical products, but there aren’t any in the stores. We’ve got different standards for testing at the [Washington State Department of Health (DOH)] and at the [Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA)] and at here, and they’re not internally consistent, sometimes they stand in the way of business practices. I think there’s a lot of things we can do to facilitate the delivery of medical products to patients who need them and that is up to and including rethinking the registry and how that works.”
    • Helping Businesses Succeed: The Board expressed concern about licensees at risk of business failure and set a goal to “identify the role it can play and take steps to help businesses be successful as businesses.”  Ideas floated included providing access to training and resources that are already available to more established industries through other state agencies.  Member Garrett reminded the Board that they “talked at one time of having [an] ombudsman here, for industry.”  Facilitator Paul Dziedzic suggested the idea of a Chief Entrepreneurial Officer (transcript, audio, meeting note).
    • Consistency of Enforcement Practices: The Board set a goal to achieve greater consistency in enforcement practices (transcript, audio, meeting note).
      • Member Hauge: “I would like to promote consistency in enforcement. Both in terms of seeking out and prosecuting violations. And—and…I would underscore “and”—and supporting licensee’s efforts to get into compliance and remain in compliance.”
      • Member Hauge: “…if our database is in the appropriate shape, we can sort and identify where the issues are. For example, how many warnings does somebody give out? How many warnings, how many people give out no warnings, just write violations. How many people follow, or make sure that they don’t write a violation unless a warning has been given for the same conduct. What are the criteria that they use?”
      • Chair Rushford: “…also, our team is referred to, they’re called Enforcement and Education. And I think emphasizing the education piece, which fits into the small business piece, you know, it links back to the other things we’re talking about.”
    • Inclusion in Re-issuing Retail Licenses: the Board intends to develop a formal position for distribution within the agency regarding potential future retail licensing (transcript, audio, meeting note).