Returning from holidaze, the WSLCB, SBOH, and WSDA were all scheduled to convene public events - and Cannabis Observer hosts its first weekly meetup for the legislative session.
Here’s a look at cannabis-related policymaking events on Cannabis Observer’s calendars in the week ahead.
Tuesday January 7th
On Tuesday at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the weekly Board Caucus was scheduled to recur.
Wednesday January 8th
On Wednesday at 9:30am PT @ the Port of Quincy (Quincy, WA), the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and several other organizations were scheduled to convene at the Industrial Hemp Summit.
- Facilitated by the Grant County Economic Development Council and the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Industrial Hemp Summit is a free, day-long event aiming to provide education and networking opportunities for active and prospective hemp farmers and processors. WSDA hemp program lead Steve Howe planned to present an overview of Washington’s new state plan initiated via SB 5276 during the 2019 session. Other presentations would cover “export assistance,” the “political landscape,” growing in Washington, hemp genetics, and markets.
- Cannabis Observer reached out to Bonny Jo Peterson, the Executive Director of the Industrial Hemp Association of Washington, who had the following to say about the event: “The Industrial Hemp Summit in Quincy, WA is geared towards educating interested Eastern WA hemp producers and processors. A few confirmed attendees grew in 2019. There will be a focus on export and market projections (that don't really exist yet) we will be emphasizing risk vs rewards as well as current supply and demand perceptions. I will be covering how we got to the current legislation, the USDA Interim Rules effects on hemp in WA and future legislation both in state and federally. Presentation will range from soil and genetics to harvesting, drying and entering that market either farmer direct or fully integrated. Cooperatives and partner farming will also be covered as well as grain and fiber.”
- Following the passage of SB 5276, WSDA developed a state hemp plan in late November 2019 which addressed the requirements of the federal 2018 Farm Bill and submitted it for approval by the USDA. Meanwhile, the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot (IHRP) expired on January 1st but the new program’s rules go into effect in late February, which necessitated filing interim rules to the same effect on December 19th. Presumably, Howe will address some of the confusion created by the legislature’s mandate for WSDA to conduct expedited rulemaking, bypassing formal public input, to establish a new regulatory regime for the federally recognized agricultural commodity.
On Wednesday at 9:30am PT @ the Department of Health (DOH), the State Board of Health (SBOH) Board Meeting was scheduled to occur.
- The SBOH last convened on November 18th where members implemented a ban on vapor products containing vitamin E acetate, following the October 9th meeting where members implemented a new prohibition on “flavored vapor products.”
- Both actions were undertaken as emergency rulemaking, which by definition (RCW 34.05.350(2)) expires after 120 days unless action is taken to repeal or extend the rules. The initial flavor ban was filed with the Office of the Code Reviser on October 10th and effective immediately, setting its expiration for Friday February 7th. As that date is prior to the SBOH’s next scheduled board meeting on March 11th, we expect the Board will at least discuss its plan for the ban. While there is a Department of Health (DOH) update scheduled on the latest agenda, there is no corresponding rulemaking activity detailed.
On Wednesday at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the bi-weekly Board Meeting was scheduled to recur.
- At the December 10th Board Caucus, Policy and Rules Coordinator Kathy Hoffman indicated the public hearing on the proposed rules of the Cannabis Penalties rulemaking project would be scheduled for the January 8th board meeting.
- At the December 18th Special Board Meeting, Hoffman said she planned to present new proposed rules as a CR-102 for the Quality Control rulemaking project (formerly the Quality Assurance Testing and Product Requirements rulemaking project).
On Wednesday at 1:30pm PT @ WSLCB, the three-member Board and agency leadership convene their weekly Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting.
Thursday January 9th
On Thursday, the WSLCB Marijuana Traceability Project (MTP) Advisory Committee Meeting was not scheduled.
- The Traceability Advisory Committee has not convened since September, at which time the group agreed to switch from a monthly cadence to meeting every two months. Shortly thereafter on September 24th, the Traceability 2.0 Work Group convened for the first time and has subsequently met about once a month. Cannabis Observer has inquired about the status and future prospects for the Traceability Advisory Committee, which was first established in January 2017 and struggled to elicit participation from industry representatives throughout 2019.
- On December 20th, the WSLCB signed a substantial new contract amendment with its seed-to-sale traceability vendor, MJ Freeway. The new terms of engagement, in the works for several months, do not outline new functionality to be developed but instead transition the relationship to a more tightly defined “subscription services” relationship. The 11th amendment pushes the contract expiration date to June 1st with the option to renew for six months up to four times pending allocation of funding by the legislature.
- The amendment encodes the WSLCB’s commitment to prioritize the relative stability of the existing implementation of Leaf Data Systems and lack of confidence in MJ Freeway’s ability to engineer and deploy revisions to that system. It also signals WSLCB’s commitment to the process of rethinking their regulatory responsibilities for supply chain oversight which is being explored in the Traceability 2.0 Work Group as part of the agency’s wider Cannabis 2.0 initiative.
Friday January 10th
On Friday at 12pm @ Wagner’s European Bakery and Café, the inaugural Cannabis Observer Legislative Meetup was scheduled to occur.
- The 2020 legislative session starts next Monday January 13th and is scheduled to adjourn on March 12th. Throughout the 2020 session, Cannabis Observer will convene a cannabis-related legislative meetup on Friday afternoons from noon to 2pm. It’s our intention to provide a networking and information sharing context for lobbyists, legislative staff, advocates, and ideally legislators interested in discussing the progress of cannabis-related bills active at the legislature.
- Wagner’s European Bakery and Café is an Olympia institution founded in 1967 conveniently located a short walk north of the capitol campus. They provide lunch options, coffee, and a somewhat unnerving variety of pastries, donuts, cakes, cookies, breads, and unnameable sugary treats. We’ll meet at the large round table at the back of the seating area.
- At future meetups, we’d like to confirm the presence of particular individuals (e.g., legislative aides for particular bill sponsors) and invite presentations (e.g., on particular bills). This is an experiment and will be a work in progress, but we feel that all parties attempting to move cannabis-related legislation could benefit from an informal, recurring context for information sharing and coordination of efforts. And donuts.