The Week Ahead
(September 28, 2020)

Amidst ten meetings of potential interest, the week ahead would reveal cannabis policymaking intentions at the legislature, the WSLCB, and substance use prevention organizations.

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

Monday September 28th

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.

On Monday at 3pm PT, the Washington State Senate Labor and Commerce Committee (WA Senate LBRC) was scheduled to host a work session.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • The primary cannabis lawmaking body in the Senate planned to hear 90 minutes of updates on alcohol and cannabis policymaking from WSLCB representatives. The first segment of the event would focus on “Updates on liquor policies, including new rulemaking activity during the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of recent legislation” while the second would provide an “Update on cannabis policies, including social equity efforts, sales, and criminal activity.” No meeting materials were available at publication time.
  • On September 16th during the first Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting in 7 months, WSLCB Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson briefed agency leadership on staff performance at the Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee (WA House COG) work session the day before. Thompson suspected the WA Senate LBRC event would be “more meaty” for WSLCB as agency representatives would be the sole presenters.

Tuesday September 29th

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

  • [ Event Details ]
  • The Board last met in caucus on September 15th. We expect they will meet this week to prepare for Wednesday’s board meeting.

On Tuesday at 1pm PT, the Washington State Health Care Authority (WA HCA) was scheduled to host a webinar titled, “Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Washington”.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • Cannabis Observer has begun paying more attention to the WA HCA as the implementation of most of the State’s substance use prevention and treatment policies---and associated funding to do so---is directed there.
    • In March, WA HCA was allocated $98,806,000 directly from the dedicated marijuana account (DMA), the State’s pool of consumer excise tax dollars collected by cannabis retailers. A majority of that funding supported WA HCA’s primary mission to provide affordable health care to Washingtonians. WA HCA was the largest recipient of cannabis excise tax dollars aside from the Washington State Treasurer, and received more than three times as much funding from the DMA as all counties and cities in Washington combined.
    • WA HCA is also a primary conduit for federal substance use prevention dollars through long standing relationships with organizations such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  • On Tuesday, WA HCA Prevention Policy and Project Manager Christine Steele and WA HCA Prevention Research and Evaluation Manager Tyler Watson “will provide an overview of the current research and evidence on the impacts of marijuana legalization (I-502) in Washington State.”
  • Cannabis Observer learned that WA HCA recently opened a request for proposals (RFP 2020HCA11) for a “Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Online Reporting System (SUD Px MHP).” This RFP was only accessible from Washington’s Electronic Business Solutions (WEBS) and not listed on WA HCA’s Bids and contracts solicitation screen. From the RFP’s description of the project’s Purpose and Background:
    • This competitive solicitation is issued in order to assist the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) of HCA, which receives federal and state funding, to contract with agencies at the county, Tribe, and community level for delivery of prevention services throughout the state. DBHR uses the current SUD-MH Management Information System (MIS) to determine each agency’s prevention plan and, monitor their progress and impact. Washington State does this by abiding by an evidence-based, best-practices substance use disorder prevention structure where a data-driven needs assessment determines the appropriate prevention programs and develops strategic implementation plans.
    • Next Monday October 5th, WA HCA will host a pre-proposal conference with vetted vendors and subsequently offer responses to questions raised in writing.

On Tuesday at 2pm PT, a second WSLCB Listen and Learn Forum on the HB 2826 Implementation rulemaking project was scheduled to occur.

  • [ Event Details, Rulemaking Project ]
  • On September 1st, WSLCB hosted the first listen and learn forum on the implementation of HB 2826, rules to establish a framework for the agency to prohibit devices and additives in the wake of the vapor association lung injury (VALI) health scare during the fall of 2019. The first session drew over 100 participants, including at least 30 identified representatives from public health organizations and prevention groups.
  • On Tuesday, the second forum will focus on draft conceptual rule sections 314-55-550 to implement House Bill 2826 pertaining to marijuana vapor products, and the Marijuana Vapor Product Disclosure Form.”

On Tuesday at 5pm PT, the first WSLCB Engagement with BIPOC communities was scheduled to occur.

  • [ Event Details ]
  • Prompted by the passage of HB 2870 in the spring of 2020, the WSLCB committed to scheduling a series of engagements with "communities of color."
    • Cannabis Observer opted to use the terminology "black, indigenous, and people of color" (BIPOC) rather than "communities of color" in recognition of the likelihood that perceptions about the WSLCB may not be shared within racial and/or ethnic groups, and the so-called war on drugs disproportionately impacted African American communities in Washington and across the United States.
  • Originally intending to host five engagements, the agency committed to three virtual events, of which this will be the first.

Wednesday September 30th

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

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

  • [ Event Details ]
  • At publication time, no meeting materials were available.
  • On August 4th, WSLCB Policy and Rules Coordinator Casey Schaufler announced the agency’s intention to file a supplemental CR-102 for the Quality Control Testing and Product Requirements rulemaking project “on or about September 30[th].” Subsequent rulemaking updates have indicated the agency was on track to release a new set of proposed rules for this effort started in August 2018.
    • During Enforcement Chief Justin Nordhorn’s presentation to WA House COG on September 15th, he asserted that certificates of analysis (COAs) should only be good for a year. After that “sunset,” Nordhorn felt regulators “should really be looking at how has that potency changed for that particular product” as, similar to “other agricultural products,” there was “degradation or deterioration and it will change that molecular structure.” A preliminary search of the currently filed CR-102 did not turn up a reference to this change, so this may be a proposed requirement which would be spelled out in the anticipated supplemental CR-102.
  • On August 18th, Schaufler indicated the CR-102 for location compliance certificates would be filed “on or after” the September 30th board meeting, and subsequent rulemaking updates indicated the project remained on track.

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 agency’s last EMT meeting was hosted on September 16th. Although still listed as a weekly event, the Board has indicated these meetings will be hosted monthly through the end of the calendar year. Accordingly, we expect this meeting will be cancelled.
  • Cannabis Observer has long contended that EMT meetings are the most informative public meetings the WSLCB hosts. The most recent EMT did not disappoint:
    • Deputy Director Megan Duffy discussed Enforcement Chief Justin Nordhorn’s upcoming transfer to a new policy oversight position in the Director’s Office.
    • Director Rick Garza summarized the most recent Regulators Roundtable.
    • Garza confirmed the formation of the Cannabis Regulators Association.
    • Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson reflected on the agency’s legislative work session presentations.
    • Board Chair Jane Rushford prompted a rare update on the Marijuana Odor Task Force including news that the $30K budget proviso was insufficient to hire a consultant to perform the work.
    • Plus an expansive update on the reform of the Enforcement and Education Division underway for the past two years.

Friday October 2nd

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