The Week Ahead
(April 8, 2019)

There is only so much use in analyzing the past. To act in the world is to be present, and contemplation of the past encourages a gaze that is not always forward looking. Here’s a look at the week ahead.

As we approach the end of the legislative session this month, the pace of activity increases.

TODAY: April 8th at 9am PT (livestream + archive), the Washington State House Appropriations Committee meets to hear and consider a large number of bills, all vying for passage through the chamber fiscal committee. This Wednesday, April 10th, is the fiscal committee cutoff for bills traversing their opposite house towards the quietly powerful rulescommittees which enable floor activity.


View from the Senate Floor Rostrum from “Virtual Tour of the Senate Chamber

There are two cannabis bills scheduled in the House Appropriations Committee this morning:

  • ESSB 5318Public Hearing and Executive Session – “Reforming the compliance and enforcement provisions for marijuana licensees.” This is the big one: enforcement restructuring, compliance-first, revised penalties – and a revised timeline for consideration of certain violations. For a while, the bill included the creation of a legislative work group to investigate the WSLCB. That language was removed, seemingly at the last minute by the author of a striking amendment, Representative Steve Kirby, who said, “I have it on good authority that we needed to take out the legislative work group if we wanted to have any bill at all.”
  • SB 5605Executive Session – “Concerning misdemeanor marijuana offense convictions.” This is a major social justice bill and a first of its kind in Washington State. It would enable people to vacate a previous conviction for an act which is no longer considered illegal for any Washington State citizen: possession of small amounts of cannabis. The number of people who could potentially benefit from a partial unwriting of their legal history has been increased by an amendment that includes a wider range of statutes and municipal codes. The bill’s former companion, HB 1500 was considered too radical for assuming the courts would cover the costs of implementation; that bill was stopped by this same fiscal committee. The Senate bill under consideration would give the courts the option to push costs on to individuals seeking relief.

TUESDAY: April 9th at 1pm PT @ WSLCB and via webinar (registration), Cannabis Policy and Rules Coordinator Kathy Hoffman and a co-facilitator will lead the “Quality Assurance Testing Draft Conceptual Rules Listen and Learn Forum.” The agenda spells out expectations for the format of the public work session, where direct participation is encouraged within set guidelines. The draft conceptual rules as of March 21st may have changed since then. Hoffman will work with a co-facilitator, Debbie Rough Mack, whom Hoffman said she had worked with during her five years just prior as a Policy Analyst for the Department of Health. Hoffman provided extensive detail on her rulemaking process during the previous week’s Executive Management Team (EMT) public meeting (audio – 24m). The Board and agency leadership seemed relieved to have someone as detail-oriented as Ms. Hoffman taking ownership of improving rulemaking process and documentation at the agency.

Also on Tuesday, the weekly WSLCB Board Caucus recurs at 10am PT. Cannabis Observer will be there as usual.

WEDNESDAY: April 10th at 1:30pm PT @ WSLCB, the three-member Board and agency leadership meet during their weekly Executive Management Team meeting. Likewise, Cannabis Observer will be there if this meeting is not canceled.

THURSDAY: April 11th at 2:30pm PT @ WSLCB and via webinar, the Traceability Advisory Committee (TAC) meets for their sometimes monthly reports and conversations between public stakeholders, the WSLCB, MJ Freeway, and other implicated parties. The TAC hasn’t met since January perhaps in no small part because the November release of the MJ Freeway Leaf software system—custom designed for Washington State—still hasn’t been completed – and won’t be at least until June. Or at least that’s what the latest revised schedule says which will be included in a new contract amendment further pushing out the deadline for this lamentable software project. Yours truly sits on the Traceability Advisory Committee on behalf of The Cannabis Alliance and I’ll be talking more frankly about traceability in the coming months.

If the TAC meeting occurs (as the past two have been canceled at the last minute) we should be talking about the creation of Data Sharing Agreements between the WSLCB and third-party software providers, an interim step towards formal certification (and de-certification) of integrators. Earlier this same morning at 10am PT, WSLCB hosts a bi-weekly call with the third-party software providers and MJ Freeway.

I’ve asked that the TAC begin to marshal a history of cannabis traceability in Washington State as the majority of people in the room have not been in the room throughout the implementation and evolution of cannabis legalization in Washington State. Choices have been made about traceability during that time, all along the way, and continue to this day. I am also asking that we consider the future of traceability in Washington State—and, obviously, beyond the state’s borders—because it’s a beautiful thing that Cannabis grows and is growing quite well all across the planet.

Have a good week.