WA Senate LBRC - Committee Meeting
(January 23, 2020) - Summary

Four new cannabis-related bills were heard in the Senate on wholesale discounts, retail robberies, retail sales of CBD products, and industry labor standards.

Here are some observations from the Thursday January 23rd Washington State Senate Labor and Commerce Committee (WA Senate LBRC) committee meeting.

My top 4 takeaways:

  • The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hosted public hearings on four new cannabis bills beginning with SB 6057, “Concerning price differentials in the sale of marijuana.”
  • Next, the Committee heard SB 6033, “Concerning the safety and security of retail marijuana outlets.”
    • Staff Report
    • Keiser, the bill’s primary sponsor, offered introductory remarks explaining that her son, a budtender, had “experienced a really traumatic incident” during an armed “attempted robbery at a retail outlet in the Seattle area.” Noting there was no “state level oversight of retail robberies in the marijuana industry,” she suggested that the thefts could be “coordinated” efforts and crafted the legislation to require local law enforcement to report all cannabis retail robberies to WSLCB (audio – 1m, video).
    • Pro (6)
      • Kyle Capizzi (audio - 1m, video)
      • Kristin Baldwin (signed in)
      • Vicki Christophersen (signed in)
      • Kc Franks (signed in)
      • Chris Marr (signed in)
      • Chris Thompson, WSLCB Director of Legislative Affairs (signed in)
    • Con (0)
    • Other (1)
      • James McMahan, Washington’s Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs  (WASPC) Policy Director (audio - 2m, video).
        • McMahan said, "We agree, we have been very concerned about the criminal activity both at, frankly, and within the recreational marijuana market" with “cash transactions” being the most concerning. He argued that as the bill would require local law enforcement to report cases to the Washington State Patrol (WSP) who would relay the information to WSLCB, it assumed “connectivity” between state and local law enforcement that he claimed “[does not] actually exist.” Instead, McMahan proposed that retailers, “the victim of the crime,” report robberies directly to WSLCB. Though he hoped that communication between licensees and the agency’s Enforcement and educational staff were “so constant and so strong that [WSLCB] would know about it whether it was reported.”
        • Keiser wanted to know about current reporting practices and if local law enforcement could provide robbery reports to WSLCB Enforcement directly (audio - 1m, video). 
        • Senator Maureen Walsh wondered about the process for reporting alcohol thefts, “is it the same process you’re proposing?” (audio - 1m, video)
        • Senator Steve Conway asked McMahan about “sentencing enhancements” in SB 6033 (audio - 1m, video).
  • The Committee moved on to consider SB 6269, “Authorizing marijuana retailers to sell cannabidiol products.”
  • The final bill heard was SB 6393, “Concerning cannabis industry workplace standards.”
    • Staff Report
    • Conway, the bill’s primary sponsor and Vice Chair of the Committee, said his substitute legislation was an “interesting idea” based on a bill from California. His intention with the proposed law was to “encourage practices in our industry to ensure good wages and decent benefits” (audio – 1m, video).
    • Pro (35)
      • Noni O'Reilly, Budtender (audio - 2m, video)
      • Jahan Brooks, processor employee (audio - 2m, video)
      • Gwendolyn Bush, former cannabis industry employee (audio - 2m, video)
      • Larry Brown, Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) President (audio - 3m, video)
        • Brown said the bill was about ensuring “safe work environments” and that employees “have the right to organize for a voice, dignity, and respect at work.” He called the legislation “similar to what other states currently have in place or are planning to implement.” Brown expected businesses would be able to provide “healthcare and living wages,” workplace safety, equity, “or, if they choose, honor a labor peace agreement or collective bargaining agreement with their workers.”
      • Josh Hymer, Have a Heart Budtender and Medical Cannabis Consultant (audio - 2m, video)
      • Joe Martins, cannabis trimmer (audio - 2m, video)
      • Amirah Harris, former LUCID Budtender (audio - 2m, video)
      • LaQuita Honeysucker, UFCW International Labor Union Legislative and Policy Director (audio - 3m, video)
        • Honeysucker traveled from the union’s Washington D.C. office to support the bill. “Wherever cannabis is legalized, UFCW is committed to family-sustaining jobs and a strong, diverse, skilled workforce.” She believed that labor peace agreements (LPA) offered “an effective way to achieve the stated goals of cannabis legalization.” Honeysucker identified three states with LPA policies for cannabis businesses (CA, NJ, NY), three states considering such policies (MI, NM, WA), and others that included LPAs in a “scoring system” (IL, PA). She claimed LPAs had a role in “quality job creation” and improving diversity.
        • Honeysucker’s testimony prompted Keiser and Conway to ask for copies of her comments (audio – <1m, video).
        • Senator Rebecca Saldaña then emphasized the bill wouldn’t technically “require or mandate unionization” and asked about Illinois’ point system (audio – 2m, video).
      • Mark Riker, Washington State Construction and Building Trades Council Executive Secretary (audio – 3m, video)
      • Patricia Brown, UFCW 21 (audio – 2m, video)
        • Brown spoke “for a fellow union member named Brandon” who worked security at Have a Heart.
      • Dacia Burley, UFCW 21 (audio – 2m, video)
        • Burley spoke for “union member Devin,” a budtender.
      • Sarah Cherin, UFCW 21 Executive Vice President and Political & Community Director (audio – 2m, video)
      • Chris Thompson (audio – 1m, video)
        • Thompson said WSLCB embraced the “general purpose and direction of the bill” in addition to the “focus on social equity as a part of the process” and said the agency would need to work with “sister agencies” on some of “the nuts and bolts of the bill.”
        • Ranking Member Curtis King found the WSLCB’s support for the bill “totally appalling.” He called out Thompson, whom he had witnessed testify “other” on many “controversial bills,” as well as the agency: “Not only do you have oversight of these industries, but you’re supposed to be somewhat protective of these industries, and make sure that they’re able to survive” (audio – 1m, video).
      • Matt Carroll, American Cannabis Workers Employee Association (ACWEA, audio – 2m, video)
        • Carroll said he had more than 40 years of labor experience in addition to having a son working in the cannabis industry. He praised the businesses who had testified for treating their employees well but noted “not all employers in this industry are of the same caliber.” He felt the collective bargaining agreements in the bill would “help set standards within a new industry that we have here.” Carroll was also open to “movement and adjustment” of the proposed point system.
      • Tonya Burnett (signed in)
      • Anthony Cantu (signed in) 
      • Derrick Edens (signed in) 
      • Matt Edgerton (signed in) 
      • Sean Embly (signed in) 
      • Eric Haick, SEIU 925 (signed in) 
      • Matthew Hepner, IBEW/CEWW (signed in)
      • Cynthia Hill (signed in)
      • Sybill Hyppolite, WSLC (signed in)
      • Celia Jackson, King County (signed in)
      • Maria Milliron (signed in)
      • Anna Minard (signed in)
      • Tim Miosio (signed in)
      • Demas Nesterenko, SEIU 775 (signed in)
      • Seamus Petrie, Washington Public Employees Association (WPEA, signed in)
      • Pia Rivera (signed in)
      • Monica Smith (signed in)
      • Chuck Svac (signed in)
      • Teresita Torres, Teamsters Joint Council 28 (signed in)
      • Sandra Toussaint, AFSCME Council 28/WFSE (signed in)
      • Amirah Ziada (signed in)
    • Con (36)
      • Daniela Bernhard (audio - 2m, video).
      • Thomas Werth (audio - 2m, video)
      • Duncan Hanron, Craft Elixirs (audio - 2m, video)
      • Casey Jennett, Craft Elixirs (audio - 3m, video)
        • Jannett opposed the bill while stressing he was an “hourly employee” of a cannabis business and not a manager or licensee. Jannett couldn’t comprehend the creation of a point system for renewal of licenses in the cannabis industry when we “don’t do it in restaurants, it’s like there’s not a legislator in this state whose not a hypocrite at that point” as food service workers faced abusive behavior “in a tremendous manner.” Where dialogue may have existed between business workers and management, the bill “mandated” a shift of power to labor union leaders. He warned “these aren’t cannabis workers that are trying to organize us right now.”
      • Bob Battles, Association of Washington Businesses (AWB) General Counsel/Government Affairs Director (audio - 1m, video)
        • Claiming AWB represented hundreds of thousands of workers including those in the cannabis sector, Battles opposed the measure as it “sets a different standard for one industry than all other industries.” He challenged the bill’s claimed goals of better wages and workplace safety as “you look at the point system, those are some of the lowest points you get for meeting those.” Battles closed by pointing out that requiring some of the agreements “with no legitimate state purpose” could be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
      • Julia Lee, Uncle Ike’s Operations Coordinating Analyst (audio - 2m, video)
      • Aaron Bossett, Black Cannabis Commission (handout, audio - 2m, video)
      • Kyle Capizzi (audio - 2m, video)
        • Following the panel of Battles, Lee, Bossett, and Capizzi, Conway acknowledged potential challenges to the bill’s proposed point system and asked the panel for ideas to “refine” the point process (audio - 1m, video).
      • Jim Mullen (audio - 3m, video)
        • Speaking as the president of WACA, Mullen acknowledged improvements in the version of the bill under consideration and positive conversations with UFCW representatives. Though WACA hadn’t reached out to all of its members yet, Mullen opposed the legislation as the 502 market was "still a fragile and developing" one that was also “still federally illegal." He believed the bill didn’t address industry struggles like a lack of access to banking nor “normal loan and funding access.” His specific concerns were mandates imposed without regard for the current success, or lack or success, of the licensee as well as a point system being “conjoined” to license renewal. Mullen said several questions remained, such as “what will the role of the LCB be in this?”
        • Walsh spoke up to request the input of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on HB 6393, saying she found the bill “appalling” (audio - <1m, video).
      • Mark Ambler (signed in)
      • Kristin Baldwin (signed in, written testimony)
      • Aaron Barfield (signed in)
      • Bruce Beckett, Washington Retail Association (signed in)
      • Kerry Bennett, Canna Organix President (signed in, written testimony)
      • Chris Bell, Doghouse (signed in)
      • Ezra Eickmeyer (signed in)
      • Ian Eisenberg (signed in)
      • Kc Franks (signed in)
      • Daniel Fulcher, Kohl Processing Enterprises (signed in)
      • Eric Gaston (signed in, written testimony)
      • Will Houza, Organization for Black Affairs (signed in)
      • Mariam James, consumer (signed in)
      • James Johansen, Aardvark Engineering (signed in)
      • Danny Khuu, The Evergreen Market Director of Purchasing (signed in)
      • Zahra Kohl, Kohl Processing Enterprises Co-Owner (signed in)
      • Andrew Kohl, Kohl Processing Enterprises Co-Owner (signed in)
      • Roger McMunn, Doghouse (signed in)
      • Maryam Mirnateghi, Canna West (signed in)
      • Arne Nelson, The Evergreen Market Co-Owner (signed in)
      • Nina Perceful (signed in)
      • Jason Poll, Plenus LLC / GorgeGold Co-Founder (written testimony)
      • Bethany Rondeaux, Falcanna Co-Owner (written testimony)
      • Danielle Rosellison, Trailblazin’ Productions Co-Owner and Operating Manager (written testimony)
      • Paula Sardinas, Washington State Commission on African American Affairs (CAAA, written testimony)
      • JM Van Diepen, The Evergreen Market (signed in)
      • Shannon Vetto (signed in)
    • Other (3)