WSLCB - Board Caucus
(August 18, 2020) - Summary

Board members heard a brief rulemaking update and adopted the revised Tribal Consultation Policy, but were otherwise silent on their activity. Public records help fill in the blanks.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday August 18th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Staff provided a brief rulemaking update.
  • Board Member Russ Hauge proposed adoption of the revised Tribal Consultation Policy discussed a week earlier.
    • WSLCB’s policy for proactive collaboration with tribal nations prior to regulatory actions was a topic of discussion during the August 11th Board Caucus.
    • Hauge reminded the other board members of his work with former Policy Analyst and Tribal Liaison Brett Cain to update the former Government-to-Government Consultation, Coordination, and Planning Policy. Created in 2009, the policy focused on WSLCB’s overall collaboration with federally-recognized tribes located in Washington state when agency rulemaking or actions could impact them (audio - 3m).
    • Hauge viewed the policy as a “prior obligation” of Washington’s work with tribal nations beyond specific agreements: “This obligation exists outside of our rulemaking function, it exists outside of our existing compacts for cannabis with tribes, it exists outside of our current liquor [memorandums of agreement] MOAs and any agreements we have related to tobacco. This is meant to trigger whenever an issue arises that either the tribe...recognizes that might affect tribal functions.” The policy should “memorialize our obligations” to “consult deeply with the tribes before we take action.”
    • Further, Hauge pledged that if the agency had “begun rulemaking issue arises regarding tribal relations, we are committing to slow down our process.” He noted the agency’s push to revise acceptable forms of identification led to a delay in the rulemaking project for consultation with tribes at the last Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) meeting in April 2019. “I honestly do not think that this policy will slow our actions down, I think it is a value added measure.”
    • The Board voted to formally adopt the consultation policy.
    • On a related note, Director Rick Garza mentioned his visit to cannabis testing laboratory Medicine Creek Analytics which is owned by the Puyallup Tribe of IndiansMedicine Creek Enterprise Corporation. Garza said that after speaking with the lab’s team, he aimed to “put together a virtual meeting with our staff...regarding some of our rulemaking, giving us input for that” (audio - 1m).
  • Board Members Ollie Garrett and Russ Hauge had nothing to share with one another or the public during their updates---a recurring pattern---though, with a little prompting, Garrett provided some perspective - and public records help fill in the blanks.
    • After Board Chair Jane Rushford asked for details, Garrett confirmed the first meeting of the year for the Cannabis Advisory Council (CAC) had been scheduled and indicated the agency was close to announcing dates for outreach to communities of color.
      • Garrett acknowledged and Executive Assistant Dustin Dickson confirmed the agency was preparing to host the first virtual CAC meeting on September 30th (audio - 1m).
        • An announcement was distributed to council members by email on August 14th. At publication time, the CAC had not met since December 2019.
      • Garrett admitted that the agency had developed “tentative dates” for virtual outreach to communities of color, organized under contract by Caprice Hollins of Cultures Connecting. The agency’s outreach efforts were prompted by the signing of HB 2870 and the formation of the Washington State Legislative Task Force on Social Equity in Marijuana.
        • In early May, the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs (CAAA) recommended expanding the scope of the WSLCB’s outreach beyond cannabis policy: “Even though we focused on Cannabis [in HB 2870], we do recommend broader LCB outreach (meaning focusing on all matters under the purview of the LCB).” Garza welcomed Commissioner Paula Sardinas’ input in a reply, noting, “We can obviously use it to help us determine the best course forward to include face to face meetings with communities, as soon as possible, given the current pandemic.”
        • At publication time, nearly all task force members had been appointed by Lieutenant Governor Cyris Habib and Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins. The task force will help define social equity applicant criteria for 34 unfilled licensing allotments identified by WSLCB earlier this year.
    • Board Member Russ Hauge remained silent about his representation on the Washington State Task Force on Marijuana Odor, although public records show the WSLCB hoped to contract with a cannabis odor expert to inform the task force’s work - and potentially write the report requested by the State Legislature.
      • On June 9th, Hauge confirmed his involvement with the task force created through a proviso in the 2020 supplemental budget. He had no comments on the group’s progress or activity before staff last discussed the task force on August 4th, predicting the agency would convene its first meeting in “mid-to-late September.”
        • The task force was mandated to study the “available and most appropriate ways or methods to mitigate, mask, conceal, or otherwise address marijuana odors and emissions and the potentially harmful impact of marijuana odors and emissions on people who live, work, or are located in close proximity to a marijuana production or processing facility.” The task force membership includes “a representative from the recreational marijuana community or a marijuana producer, processor, or retailer” and had no direct representation for the state’s regional clean air agencies.
        • The session law stipulates that The task force must report its findings and recommendations to the governor and the majority and minority leaders of the two largest caucuses of the house of representatives and the senate by December 31, 2020.
      • On August 10th, the WSLCB published a request for proposals (RFP) and draft contract to find a vendor “capable of conducting odors and emissions detection and research services to research and report on the odors and emissions of legalized marijuana and licensed marijuana businesses.”
        • The vendor would be expected “to research and report on the availability and appropriateness of addressing marijuana odors and emissions, and whether there are potentially harmful impacts of marijuana odors and emissions on people who live, work, or are located in close proximity to marijuana production or processing facilities.”
        • Section 1.6 of the RFP indicates that “the final report will be used by WSLCB staff to draft a Master Report” but added that the “final report, with its findings and recommendations, may at the discretion of the WSLCB be given to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31, 2020.”
        • Responses to the RFP must be emailed to no later than 2pm on Monday August 24th.
      • During the 2019 legislative session, the WSLCB was required to convene a Cannabis Potency Tax Work Group to evaluate and report on the feasibility of taxation by potency. In preparation, WSLCB contracted with BOTEC Analysis to produce a research report which was presented to the work group after its first meeting in August of that year. In that circumstance, work group members did not consent to offering BOTEC’s report in place of their own and asked staffers Trecia Ehrlich and Brett Cain to craft a report more representative of the diversity of views in the work group. At publication time, Ehrlich and Cain had both recently left the agency and would not be immediately replaced due to a hiring freeze.
      • In separate emails to Hauge and Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson, as well as public comments to the entire Board on July 8th, Cannabis Observer founder Gregory Foster asked that the proceedings of the task force be made public or recorded. At publication time, neither the Board nor agency had provided any response.

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