WSLCB - Executive Management Team
(May 12, 2021) - Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends

A mixed bag of topics included: a new CIO, hiring a DEI Manager, presentations for officials outside Washington, online licensing applications, and “pending” producer/processor licenses.

Here are some observations from the Wednesday May 12th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) Executive Management Team (EMT) meeting.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Director Rick Garza touched on several topics in his update, including a new chief information officer promoted from within, collaboration with the Office of Equity, and a staff presentation to New Mexico officials.
    • Garza mentioned the new WSLCB Chief Information Officer (CIO), George Williams, who had been serving in the position on an interim basis. He said it was “great to have George join us as...our lead now in IT” upgrading his role from Senior Information Technology (IT) Manager. He indicated that Williams was a “25 year veteran of the Army” and one of the people hired by the agency under the YesVets program maintained by the Washington State Employment Security Division (ESD). “We’ve been fortunate to be able to be really active” with the program, Garza commented (audio - 1m).
      • WSLCB was recognized by ESD for their participation in YesVets. ESD Local Veterans Employment Representative Steven Severson gave a presentation to the board honoring their involvement with the program in 2019, a “thank you for hiring our nation’s heroes” (audio - 3m).
      • Former CIO Mary Mueller departed the agency at the end of March 2021 to join Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs as Director of Procurement to perform “Public sector market development and procurement consulting specializing in Washington State technology procurements.” From 2015 until her departure, she led implementation of technology projects at the agency and endured the transition of traceability vendor relationships from BioTrackTHC to MJ Freeway through an interim transition period where the agency itself was responsible for gathering data about transactions within the state cannabis marketplace. She helped co-lead the Traceability 2.0 work group and, in a parting gift just before leaving, achieved board approval on a road map towards ending the contractual relationship with MJ Freeway by June 2022.
    • “I also had the opportunity to meet Karen Johnson,” Garza said, “the new Equity Director of the office that the governor created through legislation last year.” He indicated that she’d begun working with WSLCB and other state agencies on a “five year strategic plan for DEI,” (diversity, equity, and inclusion). Johnson would be coordinating with Claris Nnanabu, WSLCB Director of Human Resources, to bring “all the parts of DEI into our agency,” he stated, adding that interviews would begin the following day for a dedicated DEI Manager at WSLCB (audio - 1m). 
    • Garza also talked about meeting with representatives from “one of the new adult-use states for cannabis,” New Mexico. He noted “five or six of our staff" provided an overview of the Washington approach and addressed some specifically requested topics “not unsimilar [sic] to what other states have had.” Garza acknowledged the leadership of Linda Trujillo, Superintendent of the New Mexico Licensing and Regulation Department which includes the Cannabis Control Division (audio - 1m).
  • Director of Licensing Becky Smith briefed on the status of her division, mentioning online cannabis license applications and confusion caused by “pending” licenses.
    • Smith described work with the Washington State Department of Revenue Business Licensing Service after hearing “from our cannabis side...that we need to get some of our applications online and be able” to have them “not just in paper.” She said the process was underway headed by Customer Service and Support Manager Beth Lehman and Cannabis Licensing Manager Kevin Milovac. Smith described how “cannabis licensees will be able to do a change of location or an assumption, so somebody that wants to buy the business, electronically” (audio - 6m).
      • In December 2020 during public comment at a board meeting, Ammon Ford requested the licensing process be made “more efficient for everyone involved” with dedicated forms run through “electronic systems.”
    • Smith also spoke to 44 allegedly “unissued” producer/processor licenses, a topic raised during public comment on April 28th. She assured the board “that’s not the case” as the 44 licenses were “pending change of location and assumption applications.” Although marked as “pending,” Smith explained, “this is the type of application that generates...a new [Unified Business Identifier] UBI number in our system which makes it appear as a new application.” She stressed that “we have no outstanding new applications that have never been issued for producer/processor.”
      • Board Chair David Postman asked Smith about the ability to “flag that somehow in the system going forward so people know what that is?” Smith answered that her department was “working with IT” and communications staff “to see how that can be...flagged differently or shown differently,” indicating Williams would now be able to “help us do that” (audio - 2m).
      • Review the last 30 days of WSLCB licensing activity on the agency New License Applications, Approvals, and Discontinuances screen.

Information Set