WSLCB - Board Caucus
(August 4, 2020) - Summary

Another WSLCB staffer prepared to depart, proposed quality control testing rules would be revised, and the cannabis social equity and marijuana odor task forces began to take shape.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday August 4th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • WSLCB Policy Analyst and Tribal Liaison Brett Cain explained a minor change to the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe Marijuana Compact that necessitated board approval - and received congratulations before his transfer to another state agency.
  • Agency staff provided a rulemaking update which included the first public confirmation that the initially proposed rules for the Quality Control Testing and Product Requirements rulemaking project would be revised.
    • The most recent rulemaking update occurred on July 22nd.
    • Quality Control (QC) Testing and Product Requirements (WSR 20-03-176, audio - 1m). Policy and Rules Coordinator Casey Schaufler reported that the agency was “considering substantive changes” after the project’s public hearing on July 8th and had begun developing a supplemental CR-102. The revisions would necessitate amending both the Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS) and Significant Legislative Rule Analysis. Schaufler anticipated a supplemental CR-102 would be ready “on or about September 30[th]” followed by a public hearing “in early November.”
    • True Party of Interest (TPI, WSR 20-14-032, audio - <1m) Schaufler confirmed the public hearing for the proposed changes would occur the following day at the August 5th Board Meeting.
      • Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman said she would present background during the public hearing on “significant changes” the agency was recommending for TPI, and went on to outline those changes for the Board. Hoffman noted the agency had only received a single written comment. Rushford commended the work of agency staff and stakeholders on “a long process and an important one” (audio - 5m).
    • Voluntary Licensee Education and Consultation Program (WSR 19-15-074, audio - <1m). Schaufler said the rulemaking project formerly known as the Voluntary Compliance Program (VCP) was renamed “to align more closely with the intent of ESSB 5318.” He said proposed rules would be presented as part of the CR-102 at the following day’s board meeting. 
      • Hoffman elaborated on the rulemaking project which would add a new section (013) describing the program in WAC 314-55. She said, “Originally, we’d kind of wove these into our enforcement response rule work last year” but it was pulled out “because we wanted this program to exist very separately from [the cannabis] penalties schedule.” Hoffman felt the program represented a “pretty sturdy framework" that met the mandate of SB 5318 while also being developed by stakeholders, including “marijuana businesses, specifically retailers.” The proposed rules would include a process “for licensees to request consultations” and WAC 314-55-013(4) would outline the agency’s “responsibilities to provide advice and consultation...including timelines and frameworks” (audio - 3m).
    • Incremental Expansion of Tier 1 Canopy (WSR 20-01-171, audio - <1m).  Schaufler stated that WSLCB was prepping “an online survey of tier 1 licensees regarding the rule project” which would go “beyond what was captured during the listen and learn sessions [on June 23rd and June 30th].” He noted that the survey’s release was “tentatively” scheduled for later in the month.
    • HB 2826 Implementation (WSR 20-15-041, audio - 1m). Schaufler indicated the agency had received two comments on the CR-101 to codify new agency authorities over cannabis products granted in the wake of the vapor associated lung injuries health scare. He said staff were “working internally to identify processes required for the implementation of HB 2826,” especially how WSLCB might best “prohibit a substance.” The team was reviewing federal law, different states’ practices, and “other Washington state agencies.” They were also “exploring public input processes when substances or chemicals of concern are considered for prohibition.”
    • Location Compliance Certificates (audio - 1m). Schaufler explained that the agency was developing “conceptual rules” to implement SB 6206. While those rules would be made available for public comment, the agency wasn’t planning to host listen and learn sessions, and hoped to keep the rulemaking project “on track for the end of the year.”
  • Director Rick Garza and Board Chair Jane Rushford provided updates on task forces the agency was involved with, the upcoming Cannabis Regulators Roundtable, and other events on the horizon.
    • WSLCB Engagement with Disproportionately Impacted Communities. Garza said the agency’s first community meeting prompted by the formation of the Washington State Legislative Task Force on Social Equity in Marijuana was expected “sometime between” September 16th and 30th. WSLCB Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson planned to spend “the next couple of weeks reaching out" to the state’s “African American, Hispanic, and Native American communit[ies]” to arrange virtual meetings ahead of the task force’s first official meeting which was projected for early October “if everything works out.” The agency planned to provide information on “the efforts that we have underway, questions that have come up...and a synopsis” of the report on WSLCB’s enforcement practices by Hillard Heintz including subsequent enforcement changes (audio - 4m).
    • Washington State Legislative Task Force on Social Equity in Marijuana. Garza acknowledged that Board Member Ollie Garrett would represent the WSLCB on the cannabis social equity task force, whose membership was announced on July 29th. At publication time, the appointed members of the Washington State Legislative Task Force on Social Equity in Marijuana were:
    • WSLCB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative. Garza also said the agency was planning to expand its DEI training to “go further than the implicit bias training that we did with Caprice Hollins [of Cultures Connecting] last year.” He planned to meet with Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) Organization Performance Advisor Lenore Sneva who ran that agency’s DEI program to ask "how she would move forward with this program."
    • Cannabis Regulators Roundtable. Garza said the next Regulators Roundtable would be a virtual event the "week of the 17th" with online sessions throughout the week. Public Health Education Liaison Sara Cooley Broschart, Enforcement Chief Justin Nordhorn, and Garza planned to speak on four panels. Participants were “in the process of forming an association of cannabis regulators” ahead of and following the remote gathering. The group intended to incorporate; adopt an organizational constitution and bylaws; and elect “an executive committee.” Garza expected approximately “20 states and more” would initially form the association’s membership. He promised to report back to the Board within a month on the new association’s status (audio - 2m).
    • Cannabis 2021. Rushford mentioned several “activities through the rest of the year” (audio - 3m) including a rebranded Cannabis 2.0 initiative. Rushford explained there would be an “internal meeting” on the project after the Regulators Roundtable.
    • Cannabis Advisory Council (CAC). Rushford said the first of two CAC meetings for 2020 would happen after the Cannabis 2021 event.
      • On July 16th, Executive Assistant Dustin Dickson expected CAC meetings would be scheduled for late September and early December.
      • The CAC last convened in December 2019.
    • Legislative Engagement. Rushford expected the agency would participate in work sessions with lawmakers ahead of the 2021 legislative session.
    • Washington State Task Force on Marijuana Odor. Rushford stated that the task force, created through a 2020 supplemental budget proviso, would initially convene in “mid-to-late September.”
    • Executive Management Team (EMT). Rushford said EMT meetings would be renewed in September and run "once a month" through the end of the year.
      • At publication time, the EMT last convened on February 12th.
      • Prior to the extended cessation, EMT meetings were scheduled once per week to provide a context for all three board members to interact directly with agency leadership and staff members.
    • WSLCB Visit to Puyallup Tribe and Medicine Creek Analytics. Garza told the Board he’d be touring cannabis testing laboratory Medicine Creek Analytics, owned by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, with Board Member Russ Hauge and agency staff the following week “to get an update on the work that they’re doing” (audio - 1m).
      • Read the cannabis compact with the Puyallup Tribe and its two amendments.
      • Cannabis Observer reached out to Medicine Creek Analytics Scientific Director Amber Wise, a member of the Department of Ecology Cannabis Science Task Force Steering Committee, who shared: “Yes, we did invite the WSLCB management to tour our facility just to give them an update on a couple projects we’ve been working on internally as well as share some of our scientific observations in regards to QA testing. The main goal is to demonstrate that our lab is transparent and open to discussions that raise the scientific bar in WA state cannabis and to demonstrate what a state of the art facility can and should look like.”

Information Set