WSLCB - Board Caucus
(May 12, 2020) - Summary

The agency prepared to welcome two new Policy and Rule Coordinators and restart public engagement in rulemaking processes during the following week.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday May 12th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • A pair of new Policy and Rules Coordinators were hired by the agency and slated to begin assisting WSLCB rulemaking projects the following week.
    • Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman described the new Policy and Rules Coordinators, both of whom transferred to WSLCB from other state agencies. Their first day in the “virtual office” would be Monday May 18th (audio - 2m).
    • Hoffman expected that WSLCB could make “significant” progress on rulemaking projects “in the very near future” once Vasek and Schaufler were at the agency.
    • Board Chair Jane Rushford expressed her high regard for the new staffers, saying she’d sat in on their “second interview, and we are very fortunate to have them joining the team.
  • Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman provided a brief review of some of the active rulemaking projects and online rulemaking events on the horizon.
    • Hoffman’s most recent rulemaking update was on April 28th.
    • True Party of Interest (TPI, WSR 18-22-054, audio - <1m). Hoffman confirmed her plan to hold “a virtual listen and learn session” on proposed revisions to the TPI rules on May 20th from 1-3:30pm. An announcement was sent to subscribers to WSLCB email updates later on Tuesday afternoon.
    • Voluntary Compliance Program (VCP, WSR 19-15-074, audio - 1m). Hoffman also scheduled a remote listen and learn forum on the VCP rulemaking project for May 28th from 1-3:30pm and planned to send out an announcement soon.
    • Emergency Rulemaking - Vitamin E Acetate Prohibition (audio - 3m). Four emergency rules that were revised and extended on February 5th were scheduled to be extended again at the May 27th board meeting before their expiration on June 4th.
      • WSLCB planned to exercise new authorities granted in HB 2826, signed into law on March 25th, to prohibit use of vitamin E acetate in marijuana vapor products. Prior to the new law, WSLCB’s emergency rules were predicated upon an emergency ban on use of the compound in vapor products enacted last fall by the Washington State Board of Health (SBOH). Hoffman explained that WSLCB would adopt its own emergency ban on vitamin E acetate under a new administrative code, WAC 314-55-1065.
      • Section 3(1)(n) of the new law required the DOH to take control of the marijuana vapor product ingredient disclosure forms filed by licensed processors. Hoffman explained, “We’re required under 2826 to put a process in place to transfer those disclosure forms to Department of Health. But this still provides us with the authority to require that that disclosure form continues to be submitted to us until those rules are in place...”
        • In the legislation’s final fiscal note---issued after final passage of the bill---the DOH found that “The bill as written requires the Liquor and Cannabis Board to adopt rules requiring processors to submit a complete list to the Department of Health (DOH) of substances contained in their marijuana vapor products, however, the bill does not instruct DOH to store nor process the information, therefore there is no fiscal impact.”
      • On May 6th, the SBOH filed a CR-101 to enact a more permanent ban on use of vitamin E acetate in vapor products based on the agency’s emergency rules in WAC 246-80. The CR-101 does not cite “marijuana,” and as WSLCB authorities around non-tetrahydrocannabinol (non-THC) vapor products were more constrained, it may be reasonable to expect SBOH would target non-THC “vapor products” as defined in statute which explicitly exclude “any product that meets the definition of marijuana, useable marijuana, marijuana concentrates, marijuana-infused products, cigarette, or tobacco products.”
      • At the May 27th WSLCB board meeting, the existing emergency rules would be withdrawn, Hoffman would “reintroduce our new ban” in a new WAC section, and then file matching emergency rules “under the new authority.”
  • Staff provided an update on logistics for the WSLCB’s upcoming board meeting on May 27th, the agency’s first regular board meeting in months and a first attempt to coordinate remote public testimony.
    • WSLCB meetings have been held by phone in accordance with temporary public meeting restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak. Board members and staff connected from remote locations via WebEx on March 27th, April 6th, April 14th, and most recently on April 28th. 21 regularly scheduled WSLCB public meetings have been cancelled since the Board last convened in person on March 10th.
    • Executive Assistant Dustin Dickson told the Board the agency would be prepared to “take virtual testimony and/or virtual public comment” at the May 27th board meeting. He said “foundations and guidelines” were being arranged and was optimistic the agency could “kick that off at the end of the month” (audio - 1m).
    • Rushford noted it was a “first attempt” and while she was sure it would “go fine,” the Board would "appreciate patience from our stakeholders and participants."