The hidden ownership amnesty program proposal was put on hold, plus a quarterly licensing update.
Here are some observations from the Wednesday August 1st Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Executive Management Team meeting.
My top 3 takeaways:
- The Hidden Ownership Amnesty Program discussion has been shelved (transcript, audio).
- In the Quarterly Licensing Update, WSLCB Management Analyst Kristina Couch updated the Board on pending license and title certificate numbers (transcript, audio).
- All pending retail licenses or title certificates are subject to current Board policy, which is to use the existing Priority One list for distribution.
- 78 retail licenses are not reporting numbers: “Twenty-eight of those are in jurisdictions that are prohibited. Sixteen are unable to open due to zoning. Three are on a temporary discontinued business. Twelve are in the process of receiving a permit. Four have received a permit within the last twelve months. Eleven just opened their doors and we’re waiting on confirmed sales reports. One is processing an estate. Three have been given an extension. And we currently have 26 issued retail title certificates.”
- 28 licenses in jurisdictions with a ban or moratorium have not applied for a title certificate, and are potentially eligible for title certificates.
- Emerging from their annual Planning Meeting, the Board introduced their four top priorities for the coming year to the agency staff of the Executive Management Team (transcript, audio).
- The Board sees improving access to medically compliant products as a priority, and intends to make agency rules on product testing harmonize more closely with those of the Department of Health. They want to look at what other states are doing, specifically noting that Washington is the only state that does not have mandatory pesticide testing at this time. Member Ollie Garrett shared an anecdote that illustrated her understanding that the existing program is not working very well to inform medical patients about where compliant product may be found (transcript, audio).
- The second priority mentioned was strengthening the Board’s role to help businesses succeed. WSLCB Director Rick Garza emphasized the need for better communication and outreach to licensees whether or not they are part of a trade association. Garrett recommended developing LCB-led variations on existing trade association Q&A sessions to which the Board is often invited. Garrett has been working with The Cannabis Alliance Executive Director Lara Kaminsky, Washington’s Finest Cannabis President and Co-founder Crystal Oliver, and A Bud and Leaf Co-owner Anne Sulton on a licensee survey, the results of which are to be presented to the Board soon (transcript, audio).
- The third priority mentioned was consistency in enforcement. The Board discussed developing greater communication between Licensing and Enforcement, and have begun discussions to station License Investigators (generally stationed in Olympia) in government buildings across the State for licensee convenience. WSLCB Enforcement Chief Justin Nordhorn also mentioned that Enforcement may produce training videos for budtenders like they have for bartenders.
- The fourth priority mentioned was to develop a “plan of inclusion” for future-issued retail licenses. The Board is in conversation with the City of Seattle, which has a racial equity toolkit; and is looking at Oakland, California’s equity program as well as equity language in Massachusetts’ law.