Marijuana Infused Edibles Update
(Nov 5, 2018)

On October 3rd, staff at the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) publicly announced a re-evaluation of existing and new rules regarding the approval of marijuana infused edible (MIE) products and labels (video, presentation). For context, see Cannabis Observer’s initial edibles update, the trade association coalition proposal, and details on a flurry of edibles activity at the WSLCB at the end of August.

This update looks more closely at the trade association coalition proposal.

Here are three takeaways:

  • This particular trade association coalition is an unprecedented formal collaboration between the Cannabis Organization of Retail Establishments (CORE), The Cannabis Alliance, and the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA).
    • Conversation amongst trade association leadership led to a face-to-face meeting on October 8th.
    • On October 9th, the coalition issued a joint letter to the WSLCB and a statement to the press.
    • On October 11th, the WSLCB announced a 30-day pause on product and label review of edibles “to consider any alternative proposals from the industry.”
    • Stakeholder and trade association member input was gathered in preparation for a two-hour workshop on October 25th at the Lemonhaze Cannabis Convention.  Over 80 participants collaborated to suggest changes to MIE regulation.
  • The coalition presented a proposal and suggested WAC markup at the October 30th Board Caucus (audiotranscript) asking for “more clearly defined rules and transparent process,” and modifying WAC 314-55-077 according to five criteria outlined in the proposal.
    • Product and Packaging Regulations: the proposal asks LCB to clarify rules for product approval; and publish product categorization, packaging, and labeling written standards. The markup would strike existing product prohibitions in section (7), but adds a process for subsequently evaluating and prohibiting specific products in section (3)(iv).
    • Timeline: the proposal asks for 10 months to transition “once new requirements are adopted and standard operating procedures are in place.” The markup, section (3)(vi), requires WSLCB to notify stakeholders 12 months prior to the effective date of any subsequent changes to the proposed written standards.
    • Process and transparency: the proposal asks WSLCB to create a stakeholder group for designing and implementing new MIE written standards, and to publish information about products that have been approved or denied accompanied by reasons for denial. The latter is consistent with conversations that Massachusetts regulators are having.
    • Advertising and Promotion: the proposal asks for a robust categorization of prohibited image types and words, with some specific suggestions. It also asks WSLCB to add a labeling requirement and a hashtag associated with the following proposed Education and Prevention campaign.
    • Education and Prevention: the proposal asks for a new education and prevention campaign, to be designed collaboratively with stakeholders and funded by the restoration of dedicated revenue from I-502 for this purpose.
  • Context and analysis from Cannabis Observer:
    • This is a difficult time to ask for additional rulemaking at the WSLCB.  Longtime Policy and Rules Coordinator Joanna Eide’s sudden departure at the end of August requires the agency to reconstruct cannabis rulemaking leadership and expertise. The new Coordinator, Kathy Hoffman—who began her new role at the end of October—inherits a full slate of open and recently introduced rulemaking: quality assurance and pesticides; medical cannabis; traceability penalties; true parties of interest; and WSLCB’s priorities for the 2019 legislative session.
    • While the summer-long process that led to MIE WAC reform by the WSLCB is generally consonant with the coalition’s ask for transparency and consistency, the coalition asks for a lot more than MIE WAC reform. It asks for the LCB to create rules for itself to make their rule interpretations transparent, and work with stakeholders on a legislative agenda for funding an Education and Prevention campaign that will add a labelling requirement.
    • The coalition ask, including language in the WAC markup, would allow the industry significantly more time to transition as new rules and collaboratively written standards are developed, adopted, and become effective.
    • The WSLCB will respond to the trade association coalition proposal by November 12.

Cannabis Observer will continue to track this story as it develops.  You can help fund our work via Patreon.