WA House APP – Committee Meeting
(February 8, 2020)

[ Event Details ]

Here are some observations from the Saturday February 8th Washington State House Appropriations Committee (WA House APP) committee meeting.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • The House Appropriations Committee hosted a public hearing on HB 1974 – “Establishing the Washington cannabis commission” during an extended Saturday committee meeting.
    • Staff Report
    • Representative Joe Schmick asked about the “duties laid out for the commission” in the bill (audio – 1m, video).
    • Pro (9)
      • Caitlein Ryan, The Cannabis Alliance President (audio – 2m, video)
        • Tier 3 producer/processor Seven Hills Farms Co-Owner
        • Ryan began by establishing that Washington was an “agricultural powerhouse” producing “over 500 different crops worth billions of dollars.” She said that all these crops and their producers benefited from “support in the form of research, extension, financial, and technical support. All except cannabis.” Washington farmers also benefited from federal “pesticide applicator training and worker protection and safety training. Again, all except cannabis.”
        • Ryan suggested that safety and training would be one of the goals of the cannabis commodity commission envisioned by the bill. With cannabis growers in an “already difficult marketplace,” she told lawmakers licensees like herself “bear the weight of financing and developing such programs for themselves.” A commission focused on “research, education, prevention, and safety” would lighten the load for the new industry in ways both “critical” and “immediate.” Ryan asked for support of the bill to continue the state’s leadership in cannabis policy on “agricultural practices, safety, and small business.”
        • The Cannabis Alliance published a short video about the topic, “A Case for a Washington State Cannabis Commission.”
      • Shawn DeNae Wagenseller, Craft Cannabis Coalition (CCC) Board Member (audio – 2m, video)
        • Chair of the Washington State Cannabis Commission Action Committee
        • Washington Bud Company Co-Owner
        • Wagenseller asked committee members to “pass HB 1974 so that it can allow us to pool our resources and self-assess ourselves.” She said the commission could be a source of research “that we own” and help move the industry away from a reliance “on urban legend and High Times magazine articles of how to safely grow this crop.”
        • Wagenseller warned of an absence of reliable research for safe cannabis production, handling, distribution, and storage. She highlighted “safe vaping product processes” in addition to “odor mitigation research” as areas where the industry could gain better understanding. Wagenseller noted that “the research that we do will benefit hemp, also.”
        • Representative Cindy Ryu asked about demographics for female ownership of cannabis licenses (audio – 1m, video).
      • Lara Kaminsky, The Cannabis Alliance Policy Advisor (audio – 2m, video)
        • Kaminsky established that work was underway on an “engrossed second substitute” version of the bill between the Alliance, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), Washington State Department of Revenue, and the Washington State Treasurer. The new draft would be “similar in intent” but included greater guidance and modeling based on existing WSDA Commissions. Kaminsky said the new language had “input” from the governor’s office, been vetted by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and reflected WSDA’s support for “any opportunity for this industry to meet increased research goals and stringent safety objectives.”
        • She reported that “the way that commissions are created and administered means the costs are minimal to the agency” with most costs paid by cannabis producers themselves. Kaminsky commented that HB 1974 didn’t take money from the state’s General Fund even though state accounting showed the 502 market contributing substantially to it.
        • A key goal of the commission would be to “provide safe products to our consumers.” She quoted Alan Schreiber, an administrator for Washington’s blueberry and asparagus commissions, who observed “of all the crops grown in Washington there is no crop that is more in need of a commission more than cannabis growers.”
        • Schmick asked who would be conducting research for the proposed commission, “since our research universities are precluded from doing research” (audio – 1m, video).
      • Mark Ambler, Tier 1 Producer Association (T1PA, audio – 2m, video)
        • Tier 1 producer/processor Breeze Trees Owner
        • Ambler believed the bill would “help small farmers like me” and communicated interest from a family member who was a retired academic researcher and “really jazzed” about the potential to be involved in cannabis research for the commission.
        • Ambler said, “I think this commission would help us with logistics” for the cannabis sector’s interstate and international sales “when this becomes a global issue.” He believed the commission created under the bill would be the only hope small farmers like himself had against emerging nationally licensed producers “like Canopy Growth and Tilray” in Canada.
        • As a small business, Ambler was also appreciative that commission fees proposed for licensed producers were “based on sales, it’s kind of incentive, like the more sales they can get out there the more money they can bring in.”
      • Erik Johansen (audio – 2m, video)
        • Johansen explained that he was a former WSDA designee for the “commission on pesticide registration” and had worked with “virtually all” commodity commissions in the state on “pest management” and other issues. He reported that he’d worked with Schreiber and was in full agreement with his comment on the benefits of establishing a cannabis commission. As “normal sources” like federal agencies and public universities weren’t supporting pesticide research for cannabis production, Johansen was concerned about who could study pesticide handling for worker and consumer safety.
      • Kristin Baldwin, The Cannabis Alliance Executive Director
      • TK Bentler, CCC Contract Lobbyist (signed in)
      • Cindy Cooper (signed in)
      • Al Ralston, The Cannabis Alliance Lobbyist (signed in)
  • The committee also heard HB 2826 – “Clarifying the authority of the liquor and cannabis board to regulate marijuana vapor products,” legislation requested by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) in coordination with the Office of the Governor and the Department of Health (DOH).
    • Staff Report
      • Peter Clodfelter, WA House COG Counsel (audio – 2m, video)
        • HB 2826 deals with WSLCB authority “to regulate marijuana vapor products.” Clodfelter explained that although WSLCB had “general and specific rulemaking and regulatory authority” for cannabis production, processing, and sales, the bill would give the agency rulemaking powers in “two new specific areas.”
          • First around any hardware “device used in conjunction with a marijuana vapor product”…
          • …and authority to prohibit use of “any type of additive, or solvent, or ingredient, or compound in the production and processing of marijuana products, including marijuana vapor products.”
        • Clodfelter said that before using its new rulemaking powers, WSLCB would have to “make a determination” in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH) or other state agencies that a device or ingredient “may pose a risk to public health or youth access.”
        • In addition, the bill would permit WSLCB to “require marijuana processors to submit, under oath, to the Department of Health, the complete list of all constituent substances and the amounts and sources of those substances that are in marijuana vapor products.”
        • Lastly, Clodfelter reported that HB 2826 “addresses the use of characterizing flavors in marijuana products and generally provides that marijuana processors may use characterizing flavors derived from terpenes that are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant but it generally prohibits the use of synthetic terpenes.”
      • Linda Merelle, WA House APP Counsel (audio – 1m, video)
      • Bill Text
      • Fiscal Note
      • House Bill Analysis (Jan 2020)
      • WA House COG Public Hearing (Feb 3, 2020)
      • WA House COG Executive Session (Feb 6, 2020)
      • House Bill Report (Feb 6, 2020)
    • No one signed in to testify on the bill during the public hearing (audio – <1m, video). Cannabis Observer requested and obtained sign-in records on the bill.
    • Pro (5)
  • The committee added an unplanned executive session for HB 2826 and passed the bill out of committee before concluding the day’s meeting.
    • Chair Timm Ormsby called for an executive session for HB 2826 more than six and a half hours into the committee meeting. Representative Frank Chopp briefly shared his view of the bill (audio – <1, video) followed by Assistant Ranking Minority Member Drew MacEwen (audio – 1m, video).
      • MacEwen, Ranking Minority Member on the WA House COG which passed and recommended the bill, remarked that “through the crisis that we saw this past year across the nation with vape devices being altered post-manufacturing,” some lawmakers felt no state agency had been empowered with “rulemaking authority to be able to address some of those issues.” MacEwen said the bill was “a good measure for our state as a whole.”
    • The committee moved HB 2826 with “a do-pass recommendation” by a unanimous voice vote (audio – 1m, video).
    • The bill was referred to the House Rules Committee which may schedule it on the House “consideration calendar” for a second reading and amendment debate. If the bill passes this step, it may be placed on the floor calendar for a third/final reading and receive a floor vote.
Here are event details and shared documents for your review: