A quiet public hearing on Mandatory Marijuana Signage plus comments on homegrow and traceability in the Cannabis 2.0 project.
Here are some observations from the Wednesday April 17th WSLCB Board Meeting.
My top 3 takeaways:
- The Board hosted a public hearing on Mandatory Marijuana Signage led by Policy and Rules Coordinator Kathy Hoffman (audio – 2m, video).
- Board Members approved filing the CR-102 at the March 6th Board Meeting.
- On April 17th, Hoffman presented background and the proposed change in rule. She told Board Chair Jane Rushford and Member Ollie Garrett about WAC 314-55-086 which included required signage stating “should not be used by women that are pregnant or breastfeeding.” Hoffman said this had aligned with previous packaging, labeling, and accompanying materials rules. However, those had since changed, necessitating a “revised and updated” rule.
- “This proposal does not change the requirement that signs regarding the use of marijuana during pregnancy or breastfeeding must be posted at retail points of sale,” Hoffman said. She continued, “However, it does allow the [WSLCB] to coordinate and collaborate with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to assure that messaging and education efforts” on cannabis use during pregnancy or breastfeeding is “clear, consistent, and uniform.” Hoffman concluded the change supported WSLCB’s “overarching goal of public health and safety” and wasn’t expected to lead to higher costs or “a burden on the regulated community.”
- Neither Rushford nor Garrett had questions, and no one signed in to comment.
- Homegrow Washington activist Don Skakie offered comments on failed personal cultivation legislation from the 2019 session (audio – 4m, video).
- Skakie cited HB 1131 and SB 5155 on “Allowing residential marijuana agriculture.” He said the bills were “still alive for 2020” due to the state’s legislative biennium, but noted the policy committees did not take executive action to move the bills.
- Skakie promised “continued efforts through this year to reach out to legislators” and grow support as the issue was “gaining traction.” He wanted to continue working with the agency to refine the legislation.
- Skakie mentioned “concern amongst everyday consumers that do want to control what goes into their own bodies” as one justification for home growing along with a desire for cultivars not commonly offered by retailers, personal enjoyment, and development of talent for the cannabis industry.
- Pointing to “contradictory” statements during the hearings from the agency over who would enforce the provisions, he argued the agency’s enforcement mandate was in relation to cannabis license holders, which home growers clearly weren’t under the bill. Skakie then said law enforcement fears about knowing how to identify personal gardens were overblown as the legislation defined their limits strictly.
- Going forward, he called for agency testimony which was “reality-based, and clear and factual” on topics like jurisdiction in the bill as written. “I don’t think it’s impossible for police to count six plants and check an ID,” Skakie surmised.
- More positively, he pointed to “headway” the Board was making on medical cannabis, but added “it’s still falling short of what medical patients would find acceptable.”
- Cannabis Observer founder Gregory Foster spoke to the Board about the agency’s upcoming Cannabis 2.0 project (audio – 4m, video).
- Read Cannabis Observer’s summary of Rushford’s comments about the Cannabis 2.0 project during the previous day’s Board Caucus.
- Foster spoke as a citizen observer who had watched the Board’s public meetings closely and wanted to be sure “the public was aware” of the Board’s efforts.
- He described the project as “an effort to assess the agency’s regulation of cannabis over the past five years, incorporate lessons learned (including from states which legalized after trail blazers like Washington State), and develop an inclusive legislative program for the 2020 session to better position Washington State for success in the years ahead.”
- Foster said the effort would be “kicking off” later in the day “in internal work groups” and speculated it would include “a look at marketplace structures.” He encouraged the agency to consider direct sales of cannabis by producers or processors.
- Foster focused his comment on traceability and “the future of cannabis supply chain transparency.” He asked the agency to look ahead to interstate and international trade of cannabis products so the state could succeed as “the market evolves.” Speaking as a member of the agency’s Traceability Advisory Committee, he encouraged the Board to use the Cannabis 2.0 opportunity to evaluate the role of traceability while remembering “diversion in a world of interstate and international commerce is called exporting.” Foster said he’d asked the traceability group to marshal and document past decision making in an actionable way. He concluded by suggesting that “structured input” from a work group including the public could be a benefit.
- Read Cannabis Observer’s coverage of the April 11th Traceability Advisory Committee meeting.