Resistance to the State’s approach to mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic was rising with the summer temperatures while public meeting cancellations were becoming routine.
Here’s a look at cannabis-related policymaking events on Cannabis Observer’s calendars in the week ahead.
Monday May 11th
On Monday, one provision of the Washington State Office of the Governor (WA Governor) proclamation temporarily revising the Public Records Act was set to expire.
- In our last Week Ahead post, we described the process undertaken by the WA Governor and leadership of the Legislature to extend the Governor’s proclamations beyond their statutorily constrained 30-day limit. Proclamations temporarily altering the law regarding the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) and the Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Act had been extended through Monday May 4th.
- On Thursday April 30th, in anticipation of the need to renew several proclamations again, the Governor’s Office asked leadership at the Legislature for another extension.
- On Monday May 4th, leadership at the Legislature sent Governor Jay Inslee a letter detailing their response. Most of the proclamations were extended including the ability of the WSLCB to grant deferrals of excise tax payments to cannabis retailers. However, legislative leaders insisted on reinstating the 5-day window for responses to public records requests, RCW 42.56.520(1), on Monday May 11th.
- On Tuesday May 5th, the Office of the Governor announced the extensions and revisions:
- Resistance to the Governor’s exercise of emergency powers was not confined to renewing one provision of the Public Records Act. On Saturday May 9th, Governor Inslee released a statement about the refusal by Republican leadership in the Legislature to concur with the extension of proclamation 20-45 regarding “Protection Orders and Personal Service” saying, “It is unfathomable why Republicans would turn their back on victims, sheriffs, police chiefs and prosecutors.”
- Also on Saturday May 9th, protesters converged on the Capitol grounds in Olympia once again. Activists allegedly utilized public records requests to acquire complaints filed by citizens against businesses operating in defiance of the Governor’s proclamations. Organizers of the protest publicized the names and contact information of complainants, stating, “Want to snitch on your neighbor? Don’t expect to hide behind you (sic) computer screen.” Several complainants subsequently reported receiving death threats.
Tuesday May 12th
On Tuesday at 10am PT, the weekly Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus was scheduled to recur.
- [ Event Details ]
- Last week’s regularly scheduled board caucus was cancelled. The Board last convened in caucus on Tuesday April 28th. At publication time, the last time the Board physically met in-person was Tuesday March 10th.
Wednesday May 13th
On Wednesday at 10am PT, the bi-weekly WSLCB Board Meeting was scheduled to recur.
- [ Event Details ]
- The last six regularly scheduled board meetings have been cancelled. The agency last convened a board meeting for formal rulemaking on Wednesday February 5th. The agency called a first irregularly scheduled Special Board Meeting on Friday March 27th to conduct emergency rulemaking enabling retailers to defer excise tax payments and withdraw the CR-102 to pause the Quality Control (QC) Testing and Product Requirements rulemaking project. The agency called a second irregularly scheduled Special Board Meeting on Monday April 6th to conduct emergency rulemaking claiming a specific authority to suspend licenses to enforce Governor’s Proclamations, and delegated that authority to the Chief of Enforcement.
- During the April 28th Board Caucus, WSLCB Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman mentioned plans to undertake new rulemaking activity at the May 27th Board Meeting. Cannabis Observer expects this meeting will be cancelled.
On Wednesday at 1:30pm PT, the three-member Board and agency leadership were scheduled to convene their weekly WSLCB Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting.
- [ Event Details ]
- The last 12 regularly scheduled EMT meetings have been cancelled. The EMT last convened on Wednesday February 12th.
- While agency leadership has not convened in months to publicly coordinate with the Board during EMT meetings, the agency’s similarly named Management Team composed of agency leaders and Board Chair Jane Rushford meets daily at 10am. Director Rick Garza and Deputy Director Megan Duffy visited with the Board during caucus on April 28th to publicly share some of the agency’s activities during these unusual times.
Thursday May 14th
On Thursday at 10am PT, the Washington State Office of the Chief Information Officer (WA OCIO) Technology Services Board (TSB) Portfolio/Policy Subcommittee was scheduled to convene.
- [ Event Details ]
- The Washington State Office of the Chief Information Officer (WA OCIO) Technology Services Board (TSB) focuses primarily on information technology (IT) strategic vision and planning; enterprise architecture; policy and standards; and major project oversight. Members include legislators, business leaders, agency directors and a union representative.
- Cannabis Observer began tracking the public meetings of the WA OCIO because of the agency’s oversight of the WSLCB’s Marijuana Traceability Project. After two vendors and several long years, the WSLCB declared “Mission Accomplished” on traceability and reviewed lessons learned with the WA OCIO on January 9th.
- Cannabis Observer continues to track the public meetings of the WA OCIO because the WSLCB continues to undertake a Systems Modernization Project (SMP) to transition core agency Licensing and Enforcement functions from a legacy IBM AS/400 minicomputer to an enterprise Salesforce implementation. This project was initiated in 2014 and at publication time was budgeted $18.8M. Learn more at the WA OCIO’s Project Dashboard.
- At publication time, no agenda was available for the meeting to confirm whether WSLCB’s SMP project would be addressed.