WSLCB - Executive Management Team Meeting
(September 16, 2020) - Legislative Work Sessions

WSLCB Director of Legislative Relations Chris Thompson provided a briefing to the agency’s Executive Management Team (EMT) on staff participation in two fall work sessions hosted by the Legislature’s primary cannabis policy committees.

  • The Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee (WA House COG) and the Washington State Senate Labor and Commerce Committee (WA Senate LBRC) are the policy committees which first consider most cannabis legislation. Distinguished from these committee’s usual public meetings, work sessions typically focused on grounding legislators in broader policy topics rather than addressing specific bills.
  • Thompson explained WA House COG’s September 15th work session focused on “Cannabis potency policy considerations” and that “LCB was not the main event but we were invited to set the context for this discussion” (audio - 6m).
    • Thompson said that committee members had been interested in the topic since a hearing on January 30th for HB 2546, which proposed a cap on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations in the state’s legal cannabis products. He elaborated that the January hearing was “attended by very large numbers of people, there were many many speakers, there was a great deal of heat and passion around the question and there was significant support and opposition for the idea of limiting cannabis products to 10% cannabinoid concentrations.” In all, he felt it was “not really workable legislation, but it raised a number of issues that were interesting.” Thompson went on to describe how the “health and prevention communities” had “significant interest” in the bill while the cannabis industry had “significant alarm” about the bill’s impact.
      • Thompson incorrectly stated the senate version of HB 2546, SB 6332, received a public hearing. While a hearing was scheduled on February 3rd for WA Senate LBRC, the bill was removed from the agenda following the WA House COG hearing.
    • Starting off the September work session, WSLCB’s role was to “lay some context for the committee.” WSLCB staff provided a potency-centric presentation on testing, labeling, types of cannabis products, and their market share/sales volume since retailers began operating in July 2014.
    • WSLCB’s presentation was led by Enforcement Chief Justin Nordhorn with agency chemist Nick Poolman virtually present “as a backup” due to his “technical background.” Thompson indicated Poolman could speak to topics that “non-scientists like Justin and me wouldn’t be well prepared to address.” Thompson himself was unable to attend and had not viewed the video recording.
    • Nordhorn told the EMT that the agency’s presentation “went fairly smooth” and Poolman did “a great job answering some of the technical questions.” He said the “straightforward” presentation by the agency elicited few follow up questions from lawmakers. Nordhorn indicated he was working on an “ancillary follow-up” for one of the presenting groups not pertaining to cannabinoid concentrations. Overall, he believed that WSLCB’s information ended up being “in sync with the other stakeholders.”
    • Other presenters included:
  • A second work session for WA Senate LBRC was planned for September 28th, and Thompson suspected the event would be “more meaty” for WSLCB as the agency would be the sole presenter for 90 minutes. Senators were expecting updates on “COVID[-19] policy activities regarding the liquor industry and implementation of recently enacted legislation regarding liquor.” For cannabis, the committee expected an update “on sales, on criminal activity, and on social equity in cannabis.” He added that WSLCB’s materials for that session were still being arranged by staff (audio - 2m).

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