The Board looked at medical cannabis reform and a potential extension to the retail license forfeiture deadline.
Here are some observations from the July 3rd Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.
My top 3 takeaways:
- The Board is considering medical cannabis reform (transcript, audio).
- Tasked by the legislature to conduct a study on home delivery of medical cannabis products, the WSLCB convened an initial stakeholder workgroup last month and Patient/Advocate John Kingsbury followed up with survey results collected by Patients United. Board Member Russ Hauge shared that information prompting discussion about what the WSLCB can do within their authority, and what WSLCB can recommend the legislature do, to help patients.
- Exempting patient sales from taxes is popular, however issues like availability of medical-grade products, arrest protections, and improvements to the authorization process were of greater concern. Members agreed that trust in the previous gray-market dispensary system was personal, gradual, and hard-won, making state efforts to supplant this trust with regulations unpopular. The Board believes many current and potential patients are uncomfortable going into recreational establishments to seek and discuss medical products, making clear delineation between the services inside a business important.
- Board Member Ollie Garrett wonders what can be done now, versus longer term, and how to increase production of medically-compliant products. Member Hauge recommended WSLCB position itself as a conduit for vetted information on cannabis to the legislature.
- WSLCB Chair Jane Rushford subsequently suggested: “I think down the road, it’s probably a bit out there, we could have people operate independently as medical consultants.” (transcript, audio).
- The Board may grant extensions to the retail license forfeiture deadline (transcript, audio).
- Chair Jane Rushford brought up a communication from a retail licensee in Spokane who has asked to be exempted from the August 1st deadline for “zombie” retailers to become operational. While the Board expressed sympathy for unique and verifiable situations outside of licensee control, Board Member Ollie Garrett reminded the Board of their long push for action on forfeiture. Member Hauge summarized the Board’s position: “I think, we should bend over backwards to get somebody into a soft opening status. And certainly if somebody’s gonna have all their duckies in a row by August 15, but not August 1st, I don’t think we’re doing violence to our authority by considering maybe some extensions, but I think we should hold the line.”
- WSLCB Enforcement has implemented a new policy for producer and processor visits (transcript, audio).
- Chair Rushford asked and Member Hauge confirmed that the draft Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Enforcement visits has been formalized and executed.
Follow Up (Jul 25, 2018)
Here are additional documents from the July 3rd WSLCB Board Caucus obtained via public record requests.
During the meeting, Board Member Russ Hauge mentioned receipt of an email soliciting a response from WSLCB to a National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) letter sent to the ranking members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations (transcript, audio). Here’s that email and the letter sent by FOP, which is alleged to have contributed to undermining Representative Ed Perlmutter (CO-7) and Representative Denny Heck’s (WA-10) cannabis banking bill.