WSLCB - Board Caucus
(September 1, 2020) - Summary

Board members more tangibly sensed how the State hiring freeze had begun to seize up the agency, and virtual engagements with “communities of color” were scheduled.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday September 1st Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson assumed the responsibilities of the Tribal Liaison role within his division eliciting board member concerns.
    • Board Member Russ Hauge announced that Thompson had taken on the duties of Tribal Liaison at WSLCB following the departure of Brett Cain in the midst of the State’s hiring freeze. He’d grown “concerned that [Thompson]’s got an awful lot to do particularly as we approach another legislative session" and wanted to discuss the matter at greater length with WSLCB’s Management Team “sometime in the future" (audio - 3m).
      • Board Member Ollie Garrett concurred, noting Thompson was also involved in the agency’s outreach to communities of color. She said she’d talked with him about the scope of his responsibilities but they weren’t ready to “come back to the Board” to suggest changes.
      • Hauge added that Thompson had “primary responsibility” for the Washington State Task Force on Marijuana Odor which had been expected to convene in September but was now “probably going to get up and running here before the end of the year.”
        • Cannabis Observer last covered the task force created by budget proviso on August 18th and August 24th, laying out the agency’s request for proposals (RFP) and draft contract for a vendor “to research and report on the availability and appropriateness of addressing marijuana odors and emissions, and whether there are potentially harmful impacts of marijuana odors and emissions on people who live, work, or are located in close proximity to marijuana production or processing facilities.”
        • An addendum to the RFP answering potential vendor questions was posted to Washington’s Electronic Business Solution (WEBS) on August 21st which stated WSLCB would require the successful bidder to hold firm to ambitious reporting dates. Section 1.6 of the RFP indicated “the final report will be used by WSLCB staff to draft a Master Report” but added that the “final report, with its findings and recommendations, may at the discretion of the WSLCB be given to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31, 2020.”
        • According to the procurement schedule in the RFP, WSLCB staff expected to notify the “Apparent Successful Bidder” on Monday August 31st, and the contract would start on Friday September 4th.
      • Board Chair Jane Rushford urged both Hauge and Garrett to confer with agency Director Rick Garza and Deputy Director Megan Duffy on Thompson’s workload in their next “one-on-one” meetings.
      • At publication time, Thompson hadn’t participated in a public meeting at WSLCB since he briefed the board on March 3rd on the status of the State’s supplemental budget. When speaking to The Cannabis Alliance on July 9th, Garza indicated the agency wouldn’t pursue request legislation in 2021. Thompson’s team would be expected to track and respond to legislation impacting WSLCB as well as keep the Board and staff informed about legislative developments during the long session.
  • A series of virtual meetings comprising the agency’s engagement with “communities of color” had been scheduled.
  • Agency staff provided cannabis rulemaking updates and timelines which included numerous milestones in the coming months.
    • The last rulemaking update occurred on August 18th.
    • True Party of Interest (TPI, WSR 20-14-032, audio - 1m). Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman confirmed that proposed changes, which had their public hearing on August 5th, would be offered to the Board for final adoption during the following day’s board meeting. Five comments had been submitted to staff, but Hoffman affirmed “no changes” were subsequently made to the proposed rules.
    • HB 2826 Implementation (WSR 20-15-041, audio - 1m). Policy and Rules Coordinator Casey Schaufler said two listen and learn forums on the rulemaking project’s draft conceptual rules had been scheduled. The first would occur later in the day covering “newly added definitions under WAC 314-55-010(4) 'characterizing flavor’ and (40) ‘terpenes, botanical terpenes, synthetic terpenes, and ‘terpenoids.’” Schaufler said the second session was set for September 29th to cover “draft conceptual rules for new proposed section 314-55-5501” and “discussion of a marijuana ingredients disclosure form.” He anticipated an announcement for the second forum would be sent out “no later than September 15th.”
      • Later, Hoffman spoke to the agency’s collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) on the implementation of HB 2826, having met with their staff “near the end of August.” She elaborated that DOH would be gathering “comments” on WSLCB’s conceptual draft rules and draft disclosure form. Hoffman said, “It looks like the way the disclosure form will be provided” to DOH wouldn’t “be quite as robust” as had been hoped due to the fact that governor request legislation on non-THC vapor products failed to pass. Hoffman appreciated the Department’s engagement as she "enjoy[ed] that collaboration" and would “continue to partner” with them (audio - 2m).
        • SB 6254 would have required non-THC vapor product “manufacturers and distributors to submit a list of product ingredients” to DOH, which presumably would have established and funded processes for tracking vapor products at the Department.
        • In related news, “Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson will announce a consumer protection lawsuit against JUUL, the largest e-cigarette company” on the morning of September 2nd “for targeting underage consumers.”
    • Prohibition - Vitamin E Acetate (audio - 2m). Last discussed on July 16th, Schaufler stated four emergency rules prohibiting usage of the compound in vapor products were set to expire on September 24th after having been renewed on May 27th. Staff were preparing to ask the Board to extend the following emergency rules again at the September 16th board meeting:
    • Quality Control (QC) Testing and Product Requirements (WSR 20-03-176, audio - 1m). Hoffman said her team was “on target to present a supplemental CR-102 on September 30th” including updates to the agency’s earlier Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS) and Significant Legislative Rule Analysis “to adjust for the supplemental proposal.”
    • Incremental Expansion of Tier 1 Canopy (WSR 20-01-171, audio - 1m). Schaufler told board members a survey “designed to gather responses and help us understand challenges from a tier 1 licensee perspective” had been distributed on August 27th and would be open for responses until September 10th. From there, staff would “analyze the results and determine next steps” for the rulemaking project.
    • Location Compliance Certificates (WSR 20-15-043, audio - 1m). Schaufler reported that the schedule was “unchanged” since sending out a request for comments on the rulemaking project’s draft conceptual language on August 10th. They had received six comments to date. The deadline for responses was September 4th to allow time to “review and revise” before presenting a CR-102 to the Board on September 30th.
    • Education and Consultation Program (WSR 20-16-153, audio - <1m). Hoffman told board members that rulemaking for the program continued with a public hearing scheduled for September 16th and no public feedback received thus far.

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