WSLCB - Work Group - QC Standards - Public Meeting
(January 5, 2023) - Summary

At the first work group meeting, members introduced themselves and heard agency leaders’ intentions to gather input on the effectiveness of 2022 cannabis testing changes.

Here are some observations from the Thursday January 5th Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board Quality Control Standards Work Group (WSLCB - Work Group - QC Standards) Public Meeting.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • Cannabis QC standards had been a continuing regulatory focus of the board; staff introduced the topic and described what led them to establish the advisory group.
    • The QC Testing and Product Requirements Rulemaking Project ran from August 2018 until final rule changes were adopted and announced in March 2022, taking effect the following month. The agency announcement for the work group outlined the purpose to “evaluate the effectiveness of rule changes to WAC sections 314-55-101, 314-55-102, and 314-55-1025 that took effect on April 2, 2022. These rules changes updated cannabis sampling and testing standards, and introduced the new rule requiring laboratory pesticide testing for all cannabis products produced and sold in Washington.”
    • Policy and Rules Coordinator Jeff Kildahl explained the work group was related to rule changes requiring “cannabis products…be tested for pesticides and heavy metals” in order to be sold which also “effected the sample collection protocols for cannabis samples. It increased the maximum amount of…cannabis flower that could be represented by a single I-502 [Initiative 502] panel of tests.” He added that rule changes had altered pesticide action levels for pyrethrins already used in investigatory testing conducted by Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) staff for WSLCB (audio - 2m, video).
    • Director of Policy and External Affairs Justin Nordhorn counted 52 attendees and emphasized that the conversation wasn’t about whether people liked rules or agreed with how they’d been implemented. Officials wanted to “focus on the effectiveness of the rules, are they meeting the intended goals? And then, if there are suggestions moving forward we want to be future focused and have a constructive conversation on how we can better the system if that's necessary”  (audio - 3m, video).
      • He shared that “we haven't traditionally done” external work groups on topics after rule development. He was hopeful this format would allow for them to “come back after six-plus months and take a look at are they working the way we intended them to work, and should there be any adjustments?”
      • Nordhorn didn’t expect every rulemaking project at WSLCB to include such groups, but “if this is successful, we'll be having more of these on rule evaluations.” He took a moment to thank “everybody who applied to join the work group,” even though “we had to limit the spaces and we have a lot of interest” (audio - 3m, video).
  • Work group members introduced themselves and mentioned reasons they’d asked to be involved in the agency effort to review the effectiveness of QC rules.
    • Kildahl explained that he joined WSLCB in 2021 and became involved with the QC rulemaking project “from the summer of 2022 onward” after its adoption. He conveyed that he’d been “amazed seeing the progress of the legal cannabis market in Washington as it developed over the past decade, and I think it's a remarkable accomplishment to have this system in place” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Rebecca Corsino, Heylo Cannabis Head of Operations, shared that their company was strictly a processor, and “one of my big questions that I am seeking to get clarity over [wa]s…testing requirements for B2B [business to business] sales and for intermediate, or by-products,” as she’d heard “multiple interpretations” including from WSLCB staff (audio - 1m, video).
    • Danielle Rosellison, Trail Blazin' Productions Co-Owner and Cannabis Alliance Adjunct Board Member, stated she was ready to “have a conversation about what is working, what is not working, and what the solutions are to those things” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Megan Hall, Green Grower Labs Laboratory Technician, highlighted her interest in educational aspects including “with producers/farmers. And also, I'm interested in how we can work on remediation of pesticides. There is some technology to remove pesticides and…people are interested in that” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Doug Henderson, Painted Rooster Cannabis Company CEO, also mentioned “pesticide remediation in a laboratory setting for processors. While we don't do that currently it is a practice that we had earlier, and it was able to…remove all sorts of things…and I think that stretches over into other processing activities throughout the industry” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Terah Ebie, Landrace Brands Director of Operations, pointed to her background with “third party public safety testing,” and that she hoped to learn about “what the ultimate effect on consumer safety and public safety has been with the new rule changes“ (audio - 1m, video).
    • Elly Sakura mentioned having “moved up and down the west coast…helping with grow-ops and quality control in multiple locations.” They voiced an interest in finding out what “results and decisions are on pesticides, and CBD testing becoming more of a normality again.” Sakura also named her fiance Deanna Faulkner as having familiarity with the “Alaskan cannabis industry” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Michelle Kelso, Piece of Mind Cannabis Inventory Manager, expressed a wish that there had been “more communication when the changes happened…there was a lot of confusion surrounding some of those changes and what our responsibility as the retailer was.” She hoped to give “input” and be prepared the “next time big things happen” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Mercedes Zahler, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Youth Cannabis Prevention Coordinator, explained she’d joined after having “been in the state for the last three years working in youth prevention” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Jay Burns, Treeline Analytics Lab Director, described an interest in “changes in the sample sizes…the quality of the QA samples that we're seeing in the lab,” as well as a “lack of a definition of a representative sample” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Amber Wise, Medicine Creek Analytics Science Director, remarked that she’d “been in the cannabis industry in Washington state for over six years now. So, I've seen a lot of changes and impacts of those changes” and she would be tracking many topics like pushing for “science-based decisions” occurring “in a more standardized way” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Cory Gregerson, i502.Club Owner, explained his interest in tracking “how smaller technology software companies might be able to participate in the CCRS [Cannabis Central Reporting System]” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Kildahl mentioned participation by Brenda Willett, but she either wasn’t in attendance, or didn’t speak up during introductions.
  • After a review of the work group charter, members asked a mix of questions about what their work would look like, and how they would organize and conduct future meetings.
    • Kildahl said that the charter focused on the “effectiveness of real changes to WACs 314-55-101, 314-55-102, and 314-55-1025” around cannabis sampling and testing, and that the group “may provide recommendations to LCB, or to the legislature, or others about what...may be needed in law or rule about this issue.” 30 people had applied for the work group, he added (audio - 5m, video).
      • Following a retail selldown period, Kildahl reported that “as of January 2023, all the products that are on the shelf in cannabis retail stores must have gone through the new testing standards.”
      • Kildahl mentioned staff anticipated to “have a total of six meetings. We're tentatively scheduling the next meeting for the work group for early March, and then approximately every two months after that.” Additionally, they would be “expected to continue for a year,” with the “last meeting at the end of 2023.”
        • A meeting was subsequently scheduled for March 2nd.
      • The work group could form subgroups to deal with specific areas, and he promised to “provide the groups…with good written direction and specific information…for the work.” 
      • Kildahl was responsible for “bringing forward any recommendations or reports to the board or to any one else who's interested…and we will be sharing meeting minutes, including the time and place of the meeting and the items that we discussed.” He planned to provide that to members “in advance of the next meeting and we'll be posting materials on the LCB’s website.”
    • Questions relating to how the work group would conduct its work, such as sharing contact information, presentation scheduling, and logistical matters were raised following the charter review. Other comments and inquiries were about public engagement and what the group would do on specific topics.
      • Policy and Rules Manager Kathy Hoffman asked Kildahl what work group members could be “looking forward to in the next meeting” for “discussion topics” and what would be done with the “feedback we've received from committee members today.” He assured everyone that “I'll provide the notes from the meeting, and minutes and…share the feedback that's shared by the work group” before their next meeting (audio - 2m, video).
      • Burns asked about any “tasks between now and the next meeting that we can start working on so that we show up and have something to do.” Kildahl “intend[ed] to support the group…and be sending information” in advance of the March meeting (audio - 1m, video).
      • Nordhorn commented that members of the public with comments or inquiries could contact Kildahl, as work group meetings wouldn’t include chances for public remarks (audio - 1m, video).
      • Sakura expressed gratitude for the ongoing work of WSLCB staff, and her inclusion, “I just wanted to say thank you and we appreciate this a lot. Kildahl was similarly thankful that after the agency “had a member drop out…I was happy to hear from you and be able to offer that spot” (audio - 1m, video).
    • Kildahl closed out the meeting and assured everyone that “I'll be in touch” ahead of the March 2nd meeting (audio - 1m, video).
      • During the February 8th WSLCB Executive Management Team meeting, Nordhorn reported that the work group had hosted a “good conversation,” and he thought they’d be “able to set up some really robust input conversations.” He indicated that a Cannabis Alliance member had already been asking about testing rules and unintended consequences, and that he would be including their views among the work group feedback (audio - 8m). 

Information Set