The Board discussed developing a minority and women's business work group, a meeting between the agency and licensees in Spokane, and the utility of a potential cannabis ombudsman.
Here are some observations from the June 12th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.
My top 3 takeaways:
- Board Member Ollie Garrett shared her plans to meet with Anne Sulton about forming a minority business and women’s business work group. Dr. Anne Sulton, Co-Owner of A Bud and Leaf, has publicly testified at recent Board Meetings (transcripts here and here) urging the Board to convene a work group to address the diversity of business owners in the Cannabis industry. Member Garrett hopes to learn about challenges small businesses face while looking for unintended consequences of WSLCB policy decisions. Member Garrett would also like to direct struggling businesses to resources and mentorship programs (transcript, audio).
- Chair Jane Rushford reviewed her notes from the WSLCB’s recent trip to Spokane where staff met with about 60 licensees. The meeting was a roundtable style discussion followed by a Q&A. Topics covered included traceability, illicit market activity, hidden ownership, canopy, and overproduction. Chair Rushford noted that most of the issues that are seen on the west side of the state are also present on the east side while sungrown farming and transportation difficulties are more prevalent topics on the east side (transcript, audio).
- Board Member Ollie Garrett expressed the need for an ombudsman for the cannabis industry. Member Garrett suggested the cannabis industry needs a trusted third-party advocate—not a WSLCB employee—whom licensees could go to for assistance in lieu of their Enforcement officer. Member Garrett spoke to her experiences working for Tabor100 where business owners have called her and she has helped them through administrative issues. Both Chair Rushford and Member Garrett recognized organizations such as WACA and The Cannabis Alliance currently serve this function for licensees (transcript, audio).