The Week Ahead
(August 19, 2019)

Ecology lights up the Cannabis Science Task Force, the Board meets in Bothell, WSLCB’s taxation by potency workgroup convenes, plus a QA listen and learn forum.

Here’s a look at the busy week ahead.

TUESDAY: On Tuesday August 20th at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the weekly Board Caucus recurs.

On Tuesday August 20th from 2-4pm PT @ Founders Way Hall on the UW Bothell Campus [ map ], the WSLCB hosts a Prevention Roundtable. See details below in relation to Wednesday’s board meeting.

WEDNESDAY: On Wednesday August 21st at 10am PT @ Cascadia College in Bothell [ map ], the bi-weekly Board Meeting recurs. Among other business, the Board will likely approve an extension to the Packaging and Labeling (PAL) phase-in deadlines encoded in BIP 05-2019 to provide an additional six months for retailers to sell cannabis products which do not comply with the new rules.

This will be the second board meeting arranged outside Olympia in 2019, the first being the board meeting hosted at the Spokane City Hall on January 9th in eastern Washington. On the agency’s Spokane trip, board members and staff coordinated additional meetings of value which encouraged the agency to plan future board meetings in other parts of Washington state. One ancillary meeting planned for the agency’s Bothell trip is a Prevention Roundtable scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The WSLCB’s relatively new Public Health Education Liaison Sara Cooley Broschart arranged the private event which was advertised to “Prevention and Public Health partners in NW WA” in a way that emphasized Board Chair Jane Rushford would be present. The invitation states the agency “wants to hear from you about how LCB’s regulations and the products we regulate are impacting you and the communities your serve.” WSLCB requested topics for discussion from respondents and Broschart’s post on the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) Athena Forum included the tag “Packaging and Labeling.”

On Wednesday August 21st from 10:15am to 1:15pm PT @ Lacey Library [ map ], the Department of Ecology (DOE) kicks off the first meeting of the Cannabis Science Task Force (CSTF). During the 2019 legislative session, HB 2052 was written into law with very little resistance to removing responsibility for testing lab accreditation from the WSLCB to the DOE by 2024. As part of that law, the CSTF was established with two charges: “Collaborate on the development of appropriate laboratory quality standards for marijuana product testing laboratories” and convene two working groups: a “proficiency testing program work group” and a “laboratory quality standards work group.” As detailed in the law, the CSTF must submit two studies to the legislature to report their findings.

The Cannabis Science Task Force has been structured to be led by a Steering Committee which will receive the findings generated by the two working groups. Thanks to advocacy from Cannabis Observer and our community, the proceedings of the Steering Committee will be open to the public and include opportunities for public engagement. On Wednesday, the Steering Committee planned to review the 2018 Cannabis Lab Accreditation Report, the task force mandate, and the structure of the Steering Committee and its work groups.

The DOE has stated their intention to make all Steering Committee materials publicly available and has indicated announcements will be made through the agency’s CANNABIS-LABS email service – but we have yet to see any communications there. Cannabis Observer has created and will maintain a Google Calendar for DOE cannabis-related activity available on our Department of Ecology landing screen. You can access that calendar directly on the web or import it using Apple’s iCal format.

On Wednesday August 21st at 1:30pm PT @ WSLCB, the three-member Board and agency leadership remain scheduled to convene their weekly Executive Management Team meeting, currently on a bi-weekly cadence. But with the Board and key agency staff in Bothell, it’s highly unlikely this meeting will occur (unless it occurs in Bothell).

THURSDAY: On Thursday August 22nd at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the bi-weekly Marijuana Traceability Project (MTP) Integrator Work Session recurs. This is not a formal public meeting, but is open to interested parties.

On Thursday August 22nd at 10am PT @ WSLCB, the newly formed Cannabis Potency Tax Work Group will meet for the first time. During the 2019 legislative session, the agency was charged “to convene a work group to determine the feasibility of and make recommendations for varying the marijuana excise tax rate based on product potency” and report their findings by December 1st. In addition to WSLCB staff, the closed work group includes representatives from academia, public health communities, cannabis trade associations, one software vendor, one patient representative, tribal nations, other state agencies, and the Office of the Governor. I have been asked and will participate, but have been requested not to apply Cannabis Observer’s process to the closed work group.

On Thursday August 22nd from 1-4pm PT @ WSLCB, the agency hosts the second Quality Assurance (QA) Testing and Product Requirements rulemaking project Listen and Learn Forum. The first listen and learn session was successfully hosted on April 9th but a second forum planned for June 25th was cancelled at the last minute. The agency intended the focus of this session to be “limited only to mitigation and phase-in strategies to implement future rules” and distributed a copy of the most recent draft conceptual rules (Aug 8) along with guidance on the structure of the listen and learn forum format.