The Week Ahead
(August 24, 2020)

Cannabis odor experts prepared bids to inform the Marijuana Odor Task Force while software integrators contemplated a murky future for traceability in Washington state.

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

Monday August 24th

On Monday at 10am PT, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) COVID Legal/Policy/Rules Meeting was scheduled to recur.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • Agency staff leadership, Board Chair Jane Rushford, and Assistant Attorney General Bruce Turcott convene multiple times per week via webinar to discuss policy-related questions raised in the context of the pandemic.
  • Originally having met daily every work day, the schedule of meetings was shifted to 3x per week (M, W, F) on June 10th.

Monday at 2pm PT is the deadline for cannabis odor experts to submit research and reporting proposals to the WSLCB to inform the Washington State Task Force on Marijuana Odor.

  • On August 10th, the WSLCB published a request for proposals (RFP) and draft contract to find a vendor “capable of conducting odors and emissions detection and research services to research and report on the odors and emissions of legalized marijuana and licensed marijuana businesses.” The vendor would be expected “to research and report on the availability and appropriateness of addressing marijuana odors and emissions, and whether there are potentially harmful impacts of marijuana odors and emissions on people who live, work, or are located in close proximity to marijuana production or processing facilities.” Responses to the RFP must be emailed to no later than 2pm on Monday August 24th.
  • The Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) maintains Washington’s Electronic Business Solution (WEBS), a procurement portal for state and local public entities. After free registration, browsers can search for responsive RFPs and receive notifications for new solicitations.
  • On Friday August 21st, the WSLCB posted responses to questions received from potential vendor applicants in WEBS. Potential respondents had many questions seeking clarification about the RFP’s focus on "the potentially harmful impacts of marijuana odors."
    • The WSLCB responded, Harmful in this context can be defined broadly. Harm could take the form of injury to human health, or an impairment of quality of life, impact on property values or limitation on the use of neighboring property. Areas of consideration should focus on directly harmful, acute exposures, and nuisance odors. Long term studies are outside of the scope of this procurement, but will be considered if available.”
    • The WSLCB also replied, Potentially in this context, can be defined as having the capacity to develop or happen in the future. It can also be seen as non-conclusive evidence or data that may be suggestive of, if not definitive proof of, harm.”
  • Potential respondents also had many questions about the measurement of cannabis odors and the absence of “minimum performance benchmarks or referenced standards for odor identification or testing.”
    • The WSLCB responded, “While there are no minimum performance benchmarks or reference standards for odor identification or testing...part of the project is trying to determine which analytics would need to be studied or monitored to show potential harm.”
    • The agency continued, "...the WSLCB is interested in collecting emissions measurements from marijuana production and processing facilities as part of the scope of this solicitation" and "WSLCB will provide access to designated marijuana production and processing facilities solely for the purposes of supplementing the review of these issues. This will occur when all parties mutually agree to the visit." Later, the agency indicated “the WSLCB is concerned with reviewing these issues while considering indoor and outdoor production facilities. These reviews should also consider greenhouse marijuana productions and marijuana processing.”
    • The agency was asked, "Is the WSLCB interested in levels of some or all total volatile organic compounds (TVOC), specific VOC with known toxicity, ozone, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide?" The agency responded, "The WSLCB is interested in levels of all potentially harmful substances, including volatile organic compounds, to complete a thorough and robust review of these issues."

Tuesday August 25th

On Tuesday at 10am PT, the weekly WSLCB Board Caucus was scheduled to recur.

Wednesday August 26th

On Wednesday at 10am PT, the WSLCB COVID Legal/Policy/Rules Meeting was scheduled to recur.

The weekly WSLCB Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting was cancelled.

Thursday August 27th

On Thursday at 10am PT, the monthly WSLCB Marijuana Traceability Project (MTP) Integrator Work Session was scheduled to recur.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • On August 13th, WSLCB staff announced the upcoming “LCB Leaf Integrator Support Meeting” and solicited agenda items under a tightened discussion policy.
  • Earlier this month, Cannabis Observer reached out to WSLCB staff to discuss the agency’s post-pandemic position on traceability.
    • While productive and forward-thinking conversations had been underway as part of the agency’s Traceability 2.0 Work Group, it’s last scheduled meeting in March was cancelled and work group members had not subsequently heard from the agency. The software integrators had seen their access to agency staff drawn down with the departure of their primary point of contact during a hiring freeze, withdrawal of BIP 13-2019 without stakeholder discussion, and rescheduling of the bi-weekly Integrator Work Session to a monthly event.
    • While the pandemic unsettled most things, traceability in Washington state would become more thoroughly mired. Facing a 15% fiscal cut during biennium 2021-2023, it’s Cannabis Observer’s understanding that new money for traceability would not be requested by the WSLCB in their upcoming proposed budget. Operation and support of the existing Leaf Data Systems implementation would continue to cost the agency $600,000 per year - almost but not quite the amount collected from the extra $300 ponied up by licensees at renewal every year since the agency dropped BiotrackTHC. That money is handed over to MJ Freeway to run their platform and support licensees attempting to use it, so no funds would be available to effect a transition to a different approach nor attempt to perform upgrades.
    • In the absence of exploratory funding, having achieved operational stability of a sort, and with demands from the alcohol side overflowing - cannabis traceability had become low-to-no priority. Cannabis Observer encouraged agency staffers to communicate their perspective to the members of the Traceability 2.0 Work Group as well as the software integrators. It appears Washington state is stuck with MJ Freeway for years to come.

Friday August 28th

On Friday at 10am PT, the WSLCB COVID Legal/Policy/Rules Meeting was scheduled to recur.[ Event Details ]