WSLCB - Board Meeting
(May 24, 2023) - Summary

Rulemaking to implement alcohol legislation included a cannabis-related bill; public commenters gave input on cannabis traceability and called for more updates about environmental pesticides.

Here are some observations from the Wednesday May 24th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Board Meeting.

My top 4 takeaways:

  • Implementation of 2023 alcohol legislation would include a bill regarding a ban on products combining alcohol and cannabis (audio - 3m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW, Rulemaking Project).
    • Policy and Rules Coordinator Daniel Jacobs presented a CR-101 to open a project to incorporate alcohol-related bills into rule including HB 1772, "Prohibiting products that combine alcohol and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)," a measure signed into law on May 1st which “amends state law to prohibit the manufacture, distribution, offering, and sale of a consumable product that contains cannabis or any form of THC and alcohol.” He told board members there would be a public comment period until June 26th. Under this timeline, Jacobs said staff would have drafted changes “tentatively filed by August 2nd, which would put a public hearing at the end of September and…we would have rules in effect by November 11th.”
    • Postman asked about one of the other bills being implemented  (audio - 2m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW) before the board approved the CR-101 (audio - <1m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
  • OpenTHC CEO David Busby brought up a potential improvement to tracking products using the Cannabis Central Reporting System (CCRS, audio - 2m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW, written comments).
    • Busby last spoke before the board on April 12th.
    • “There's a bit of a problem with the data that we put into CCRS in that the reporting system doesn't know where the materials came from,” claimed Busby. He wanted to share “how to put some improvements into the CCRS system so that it would be able to track these conversion steps and some product history, or the inventory history” in light of comments by staff of difficulties getting records related to product recalls. Busby wanted to “ameliorate that kind of issue” and sent on more specific feedback to Board Chair David Postman.
  • Cannabis Observer Founder Gregory Foster pressed for more updates related to environmental pesticide investigations (audio - 5m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
    • Remarking on the “DDx situation,” Foster called upon WSLCB leaders to give more information around their actions to address environmental pesticide concerns officials first raised on April 6th. “We had 18 licenses that had [an] administrative hold” which “seemed like a big deal, and a week later an emergency rulemaking effort was canceled,” he said. Subsequent communications from agency staff “reinforced the course of action that had been laid out.” On April 18th, he noted Director of Enforcement and Education Chandra Wax talked about WSLCB staff and officials from other agencies collecting product, water, and soil samples to see if they tested above action levels in rule for dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE)---a remnant compound of the banned pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). At that meeting, Wax had indicated all the test results would be back in “about 30 days…and so that was over a month ago. And since that time all that we've heard publicly from the board, or during public meetings, was during a May 10th EMT meeting…some incidental updates.”
    • Foster complimented the lobbying work of Director of Legislative Relations Marc Webster, who had helped secure funding in both the capital (SB 5200) and operating (SB 5187) budgets for soil remediation including a pilot program to help cannabis producers. He noted the pilot program legislation was contingent on whether WSLCB “determines the soil at the pilot program location…produce cannabis products that meet or exceed State action levels of 0.1 part per million.” Because it was “up to y'all to make the call,” he asked for indication of how they would assess that. He also wanted to hear more about the soil and water samples already tested, and whether officials had “expanded [their] reach beyond this one small area since we know that the usage of DDT was widespread.”
    • “We also saw there [were] additional recalls of processors that are not in Okanogan County,” leaving Foster wondering “about the wholesale supply chain and implications there.” He approved of Research Manager Kathy Hoffman planning to convene the Cannabinoid Science Work Group “to talk about this, especially around pyrolysis of cannabis products” and “How does the level of a contaminant in the soil effect floral contaminant levels?” on June 1st.
    • Foster’s last suggestion was for Communications staff to reach out to the author of a “big deal” Associated Press article on the initial license holds and recalls, finding that coverage “kind of stigmatizing if we don't actually know what's happening.”
      • Following the meeting, Wax informed Foster the water samples near licensees in the area were “clean” but some soil samples revealed elevated levels of legacy pesticides.
      • She also informed him that she planned to meet with representatives from other agencies involved in the pilot program the following week.
    • Postman thought “maybe next week’s caucus” could feature an update from Wax on the investigation (audio - <1m, video - WSLCB, video - TVW).
  • At the conclusion of the meeting, Board Chair David Postman noted members had scheduled a Special Board Caucus for later that day regarding hiring a new agency director to replace Rick Garza (audio - 2m, video - TVW).
    • Since announcing Garza’s retirement in January, the board had been engaged in hiring his successor, last discussing the matter on May 10th.
    • During the special board caucus, board members agreed that "Candidate A" was their top pick and Postman secured approval to undertake negotiations on behalf of the Board (audio - 1m, video - TVW). He hoped to schedule another meeting "within a week or so" if negotiations went well to announce and finalize the selection of a new Director (audio - 1m, video - TVW).

Information Set