The Week Ahead
(May 20, 2024)

WSLCB - Anonymized Rulemaking Petition

A WSLCB board meeting densely packed with rulemaking and an anonymized petition to ban single use vapor products would precede a second focus group on the social equity program.

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

Monday May 20th

At publication time, no cannabis-related policymaking events were scheduled.

Tuesday May 21st

WSLCB - Board Caucus

On Tuesday at 10am PT, the weekly Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus was scheduled to recur.

Wednesday May 22nd

WSLCB - Board Meeting

On Wednesday at 10am PT, the bi-weekly WSLCB Board Meeting was scheduled to recur.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • Board members would have a busy slate of rulemaking to formalize on Wednesday, likely beginning with two rulemaking petitions which had not been published prior to outreach from Cannabis Observer.
    • Employee Stock Ownership Plans.  A petition by Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) Executive Director and Lobbyist Vicki Christophersen sought to amend WAC 314-55-035 to ‘(1) specifically contemplate cannabis businesses providing stock in their companies to their employees through Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and (2) establish who in a licensed business with an ESOP must be vetted as a “true party of interest.”’  The staff recommendation would be presented by Policy and Rules Coordinator Daniel Jacobs.
    • Banning Disposable Vapor Products.  A second petition allegedly submitted anonymously by a “Concerned Producer and Prcocessor [sic] sought to ‘Ban single use "disposable" vape devices that contain lithium ion batteries.’ The petitioner claimed, ‘Single-use vape devices are sold as "disposable," yet there are no legal disposal methods. As many as 500,000 of these devices are discarded monthly in Washington, releasing harmful chemicals and heavy metals into the soil and groundwater.’  The petition would be presented by Policy and Rules Coordinator Denise Laflamme.
      • The petitioner sought anonymity “out of safety for petitioner and fear of backlash from retailers.”  Identifying metadata had been scrubbed from the petition document itself, which would have had to have been otherwise delivered to WSLCB staff.
      • The legality and wisdom of considering anonymous petitions for rulemaking is an interesting subject.  RCW 34.05.330 indicates that “Any person may petition an agency” in a format defined in rule by the Washington State Office of Financial Management (WA OFM).  WAC 82-05 describes the petition process, and does not explicitly say a person’s name or contact information must be included in the petition itself.
      • However, after a petition is submitted, “the administering agency will send you, the petitioner, acknowledgement of receipt of the petition” necessitating the availability of contact information.  Previously, WSLCB staff have recommended denial of petitions where they are unable to establish a line of communication with the petitioner.
      • Therefore, it would seem that WSLCB staff are indicating a willingness and presuming a capacity to protect the anonymity of the petitioner.  While anonymous complaints are accepted by the Enforcement and Education division and shielded from disclosure by statutory exemptions for open investigations, that public records protection does not apply in this circumstance.
  • Additionally, the board is scheduled to open rulemaking to implement SB 5376 (“Allowing the sale of cannabis waste.”).
  • And, as of May 7th, Policy and Rules staff planned to propose rules for the SB 5367 Implementation rulemaking project on the 2023 omnibus cannabis and hemp legislation, work started 11 months prior.

WSLCB - Focus Group - SB 5080 Implementation

On Wednesday at 5:30pm PT, Policy and Rules staff planned to host a focus group on the WSLCB social equity program rulemaking project.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • On Wednesday May 15th, WSLCB staff hosted the first focus group around a draft revision of the application scoring rubric to implement 2023 legislation modifying the agency social equity program.  Moderated by Director of Policy and External Affairs Justin Nordhorn, participants on the two-hour webinar spoke up to express fairly consistent opposition or support for draft revisions.  A few questioned WSLCB staff motives for the draft changes.  Perhaps the most divisive questions were whether or not current licensees, previous social equity applicants, or SB 5052 applicants should be awarded points.
  • The announcement for the focus groups described the Wednesday May 22nd event—which would be hosted both in-person at Highline College and online—as centering on “Feedback on draft rule language necessary to implement the legislation.”
    • At publication time, draft rules were not available for review.

Thursday May 23rd

At publication time, no cannabis-related policymaking events were scheduled.

Friday May 24th

At publication time, no cannabis-related policymaking events were scheduled.