Home delivery of medical cannabis study, WSLCB's evolving product approval process, and updates from agency leadership.
Here are some observations from the November 28th WSLCB Executive Management Team meeting.
My top 3 takeaways:
- Chris Thompson, WSLCB Director of Legislative Relations, and Research Consultant Trecia Ehrlich presented the agency’s draft Home Delivery of Medical Cannabis Study (audio – 48m).
- The study was requested by the legislature at the behest of Representative Shelley Kloba who had sponsored a bill on the topic. WSLCB was required to study the topic and issue a report.
- Staff reviewed statistics from the medical patient registry database, other states’ delivery systems, input from 50 stakeholders, a stakeholder meeting, and recent feedback from the Department of Health (DOH).
- The DOH registry database currently documents 15 thousand patients statewide.
- Patient purchases account for 1.6% of the state’s cannabis market. Ehrlich added patients can purchase any cannabis products, and that medically compliant product sales made up less than 1% of the state’s market.
- Ehrlich also noted that the language mandating this report was unclear if the intent was delivery of only medically compliant products, or delivery of any cannabis products to patients. Staff has heard from Representative Kloba that the intention was delivery of any products to patients.
- The report weighs policy impacts such as security and driver safety; challenges for the industry; vehicle and packaging requirements; availability of compliant products; patient expectations and concerns; and enforcement, oversight, and fiscal impact to the agency.
- Staff discussed the potential cost at length. Using a fiscal note from previous legislation to estimate $1,345,000 in fixed and variable costs for the agency over the first biennium, a consensus emerged that the fiscal note didn’t reflect the structure of their proposed regulations, and might overestimate oversight costs.
- The report also notes topics aside from home delivery that were of concern to the patient community such as more compliant product availability; improved testing frequency and accuracy; legalization of adult home growing and/or farmers markets; stronger recall protocols for products with pesticide contamination; better cannabis consultant training; and patient exemption from any taxes on cannabis products.
- The report is entering its 7th draft and Thompson anticipated an 8th draft. The Governor’s Office will review the final draft prior to it’s official submission to the legislature. Thompson noted the report may miss it’s December 1st deadline by several days, but the legislature would waive the deadline so long as official submission happened prior to the new year. Cannabis Observer obtained a previous draft of the report shared with stakeholders at the end of October.
- WSLCB will brief the House Commerce and Gaming Committee on the report on Monday, December 3rd at 1:30pm in Olympia.
- WSLCB staff reviewed the history and current status of proposed cannabis product, packaging, and labeling approval process changes (audio – 42m).
- Director of Licensing and Regulation Becky Smith and Compliance and Policy Manager Nicola Reid described the agency’s ongoing exchange with three trade associations and the evolution of the agency proposal which began with the surprise announcement of a re-evaluation of marijuana infused edible (MIE) approvals at the October 3rd board meeting.
- Reid outlined the initial proposal from the former coalition of trade associations and walked through the agency’s draft issue brief.
- Reid described the trade associations’ most recent feedback on the draft issue brief and her team’s planned response. WSLCB intends to host conversations with the trade associations to outline the agency’s decisions and implementation steps.
- Cannabis Observer will continue to dig into this emerging story and its expanding industry impacts in our series of MIE updates.
- Board Member Russ Hauge, Deputy Director Pat Kohler, and Enforcement Chief Justin Nordhorn updated the leadership team.
- Member Hauge will meet with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington when the Board travels to Spokane in January (audio – 1m).
- Deputy Director Kohler, who recently announced she is leaving the agency in mid-December, shared two updates (audio – 2m). The Canopy Team is preparing a plan with Enforcement and Licensing in response to confirmation of 48 producers over their canopy allocations. And the next MJ Freeway Leaf traceability system update, most recently contracted for release in early November, is back in WSLCB’s test environment.
- Chief Nordhorn said he is in communication with cannabis retailer Uncle Ike’s regarding their independent testing of cannabis products. He has asked Commander Jennifer Dzubay to be Enforcement’s liaison with the retailer (audio – 1m).