WSLCB - Board Caucus
(August 29, 2023) - Summary

2023-08-29 - WSLCB - Board Caucus - Summary - Takeaways

Aside from a short rulemaking update, most of the meeting focused on the new agency research team, including outputs and external collaborations they had begun to develop.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday August 29th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Research Unit staff talked about progress in standing up the office along with projects and topics they were working on (audio - 9m, Video - TVW).
    • Research Manager Kathy Hoffman welcomed Operational Research Specialist Sarah Okey to her first board caucus. Hoffman described “multiple meet and greets across the agencies" that Okey and Research Analyst Stephen Ziegler had engaged in since coming on board, particularly a Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) “conversation on the shared work that we have around laboratory testing.”
    • Hoffman further explained a lab survey was expected to be released “by the end of this week” that would help officials meet some “shared goals…to finding proficiency testing,” as well as “help us with understanding how we approach detectable levels” of THC. She stated there would be “regular meetings” between the research team and WSDA Cannabis Programs Manager Trecia Ehrlich to “start doing knowledge exchange there as well.”
    • The research team was “taking a hard look at our decision-making tools,” Hoffman noted, specifically the “prioritization tool that we had for the rules program here at LCB, and seeing if we can customize that in terms of prioritization for research projects.” She added they were “also looking at what other agencies might use” as “tools for decision-making and prioritization tools for research,” plus research prioritization approaches used by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) staff.
    • Hoffman’s goal was "selecting and designing our research products" for use by academic institutions, or by the public in "brochures or flyers" to concisely convey information, as well as single page resources for "a variety of decision makers.” Additionally, she said there would be “a document that's like research findings, so that's reviewing other research,” plus a “research brief or a technical brief” for any “specific topic that one of the board members might be interested in knowing more about, a request we get from a legislator or, or from a licensee, or someone from the public.” Hoffman reported that there would be “journal articles that we’ll be producing” in collaboration with other researchers both in and outside of Washington. She then said there had also been studies by “folks in CANNRA [Cannabis Regulators Association]...journal articles that have been submitted by CANNRA members working together.”
    • “We're all looking at statistical documents,” Hoffman told the group, “where we're just taking a data set and putting together statistics” to be “published on our website, provided externally, also used internally.” She then described another research document formatted as “a slideshow, so it's almost like a visual document that talks about a particular situation that we've explored or researched” through a “combination of visuals, statistical, and other information.” Hoffman’s example came from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, a “retail worker fatality narrative” published on February 13th involving the March 2022 fatal shooting of a cannabis budtender in Tacoma, “where you can see what happened, the steps that we're taking by various agencies to help with the situation, and what's happened afterwards.”
      • Postman subsequently asked for a copy of the retail worker fatality narrative Hoffman cited.
    • Each of these approaches had "requirement standards,” Hoffman reported, such as whether it would be published as public information, in the “closed action resources” of academic journals, and what kind of citations would be needed. She pledged to keep board members apprised of their progress, eventually through weekly “spotlights” on issues or research the office found relevant, and “we'd also like to begin lunch and learn sessions” each month covering different research topics which would potentially be open to the public.
    • Board Chair David Postman was pleased Hoffman’s staff had met with “public health folks” the day prior. Hoffman indicated that her office would also start “collaborating with the public health agencies, including King County, and, and so many others in the work that we're doing” (audio - 1m, Video - TVW).
    • According to Hoffman, there was already a draft “framework for the research program…that we're going to continue to perfect in the coming months” before providing other research updates.
      • She indicated that she would share insights from a 2023 Cannabis Research Conference she’d attended in Denver during the October 11th Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting instead of her previous plan to go over the event during the September 13th EMT.
      • The Cannabinoid Science Work Group subgroup meetings were going to be combined, as participants acknowledged “so much crossover in the work that each group is doing and we do anticipate having a final document, or at least a semi-final document, that we’ll present to the public on October 5th.” The document would deal with “several options on how we might approach detectable levels [of THC], and then also creating some product standards as well,” she added.
    • Okey offered closing thoughts that she had appreciated connecting with colleagues, promising they were “going to build a strong foundation and base for the research team” in order to “move forward with efficiency” in “delivering evidence-based information to the LCB and community” (audio - 1m, Video - TVW).
  • Board Chair David Postman asked about staff consulting on traceability and equity with the psilocybin task force led by Washington State Health Care Authority (WA HCA) staff.
    • “I attended the psilocybin task force meeting yesterday, there’s some significant work being done there,” Hoffman said. She elaborated that the group “completed our discussions around the clinical approach and the clinical research that needs to happen, and how that's going to happen.” She felt the “clinical approach and the traditional approach” had a “gap that needs to be filled…and I think that's something that the group is going to continue to explore” and seek to close, even “if that's something that needs to be considered in future legislation.” Hoffman commented that she was planning to offer input on approaching psilocybin policy “through a social equity lens” and argued agency staff “can offer some assistance… with, given our experience in that area” (audio - 3m, Video - TVW).
    • Postman inquired about what “deliverable” of the psilocybin task force was. Hoffman responded that there were a “collection of reports” and materials hosted by WA HCA, where staff were “doing a great job of memorializing a. All the work that's been done” including by a preceding psilocybin work group in 2022 (audio - 3m, Video - TVW).
      • When Postman asked about input by agency leaders on traceability, Hoffman emphasized staff served in a “consultative position” and the group was also looking to officials with the “Oregon psilocybin program.” She told the group she’d spoken with “their director last week” about  “their progress and…how things are going for them.” Besides looking to the “ Oregon model,” Hoffman felt there was “interest in knowing how LCB has done traceability, but I don't know that the group is interested in following the LCB model.” Postman joked, “we're not interested in that model anymore either.”
      • “Talk to me just a little bit about the social equity piece,” requested Postman. Hoffman described an interest in “cultural equity…because there's a tradition of psilocybin administration” which wasn’t “rooted in traditional medicine.” She understood equity concerns “beyond, just licensing and delivery of the experience,” towards “making sure that their traditions are honored in the delivery of those services as well,” which she termed a “broader look at social equity, then just the regulatory perspective.”

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