The Week Ahead
(September 14, 2020)

A busy week for cannabis-related policymaking lay ahead including activity at the Washington State Legislature, the WSLCB, the State Board of Health, and the Department of Ecology.

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

Monday September 14th

On Monday at 10am PT, the Washington State Board of Health (SBOH) Environmental Health Committee was scheduled to convene.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • Announced late on Friday as smoke from west coast wildfires suffused western Washington, the SBOH Environmental Health Committee would not be addressing continuing, omnipresent environmental health concerns in the surrounding air. The scope of the Committee’s work was not entirely clear from the SBOH website, though an Internet Archive capture from late 2018 provided that the Board felt “Your neighborhood, school, or home shouldn't be hazardous to your health. We are responsible for a wide range of environmental health rules which are designed to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.” The agenda for the meeting does include several relevant items.
  • In preparation for the SBOH Board Meeting on October 13th, Committee members would review a large and long-running rulemaking project to integrate U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules into Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapter 246-215 on Food Service.
    • Cannabis Observer identified one reference to the Food Service chapter of WAC in the marijuana processor rules at 314-55-077(7): “With the exception of the marijuana, all ingredients used in making marijuana-infused products for oral ingestion must be a commercially manufactured food as defined in WAC 246-215-01115.”
    • As we were unable to locate a definition for “commercially manufactured food” in that section of WAC, we reached out to Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman seeking guidance on WSLCB’s current interpretation of their rule language. After consultation with Susan Harrell, the Licensing division’s marijuana infused edible (MIE) packaging and labeling specialist, Hoffman offered that “You are correct that 314-55-077 references WAC 246-215 for the definition of commercially manufactured food, although there does not seem to be specific definition offered, although [WAC 246-215-01115(88)(c)(ii)] seems to speak to it”:
      • “(c) potentially hazardous food does not include...(ii) A food in an unopened hermetically sealed container that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility under conditions of non-refrigerated storage and distribution;”
    • While SBOH's CR-102 strikes the term "POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS FOOD" (PHF) at WAC 246-215-01115(88), it is renamed "TIME/TEMPERATURE CONTROL FOR SAFETY FOOD" (TCS) at proposed WAC 246-215-01115(127). And the contained definition at (c){ii) remains unchanged.
  • The agenda also mentions discussion of the SBOH’s draft State Health Report, a biannual forward-looking survey of priorities for the agency in the upcoming biennium.
  • Committee members would also hear updates on active rulemaking efforts, including the agency initiative to more permanently encode a prohibition on the use of Vitamin E Acetate in non-THC and THC vapor products. The CR-102 proposed rules were scheduled for a public hearing at the October board meeting.

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.

Tuesday September 15th

On Tuesday at 10am PT, the Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee (WA House COG) was scheduled to host a work session.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • While not available at publication time, Cannabis Observer obtained a copy of the agenda which divides the work session into two themes: “cannabis potency policy considerations” and “cannabis-related scientific research.”
  • Cannabis Potency Policy Considerations
    • While there were some surprises in the lineup of invited speakers - the absence of direct representation for public health or prevention perspectives was curious.
    • The WSLCB would speak first, represented by Enforcement Chief Justin Nordhorn and Chemist Nicholas Poolman.
      • Nordhorn was an observer during the proceedings of the WSLCB Potency Tax Work Group in the fall of 2019.
      • Poolman is a WSLCB representative on the Department of Ecology (DOE) Cannabis Science Task Force (CSTF). While Cannabis Examiner Manager Kendra Hodgson represents the agency on the CSTF Steering Committee, Poolman represents the agency’s perspective in the more technical work groups, including the Potency Work Group formed earlier this year.
    • WA House COG members would then hear from their own senior staff member Peter Clodfelter, a Counsel assigned to the Committee from the Washington State House Office of Program Research.
    • Next up would be a panel of representatives from the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA):
    • Batting cleanup would be a panel of representatives from the Washington SunGrowers Industry Association (WSIA):
      • Crystal Oliver, Executive Director
      • Jade Stefano, WSIA Board Member and Puffin Farm Co-Founder and CEO
  • Cannabis-Related Scientific Research

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

  • [ Event Details ]
  • At publication time, the latest agenda for the caucus indicated the Board intended to prepare for the following day’s board meeting, which was scheduled to include several formal rulemaking actions.

Wednesday September 16th

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

  • [ Event Details ]
  • Education and Consultation Program (Rulemaking Project) - a public hearing on the CR-102 Proposed Rules was scheduled.
  • Prohibition - Vitamin E Acetate - the agency planned again to extend multiple emergency rules filed in relation to the vapor associated lung injuries (VALI) health scare nearly one year ago.
  • Tier 1 Expansion (Rulemaking Project) - In early July, WSLCB staff had been “aiming” to introduce the CR-102 for the Tier 1 Expansion rulemaking project at this board meeting, but it was not included on the agenda.

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

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.

Thursday September 17th

On Thursday at 9am PT, the Department of Ecology (DOE) Cannabis Science Task Force (CSTF) Steering Committee was scheduled to convene.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • At publication time, the agenda for the DOE CSTF Steering Committee meeting included a round of updates from the CSTF’s active working groups. We also expect to hear a summary of committee Chair Annette Hoffmann’s presentation at the WA House COG Work Session.

Friday September 18th

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