WSLCB – Board Caucus
(March 05, 2019)

Change is afoot and felt by the Board, including rule changes supported by the Department of Health.

Here are some observations from the Tuesday March 5th WSLCB Board Caucus.

My top 3 takeaways:

  • In preparation for Wednesday morning’s Board Meeting, WSLCB Policy and Rules Coordinator Kathy Hoffman presented the Board with the CR-102 rulemaking package which is intended to change the mandatory signs marijuana licensees must display within licensed premises (audio – 5m).
    • Hoffman presented background information on the rulemaking and why the agency is making amendments to current rules. From the unsigned Board approval to file the CR-102 with the Office of the Code Reviser:
      • Effective January 1, 2019, amendments to packaging and labeling rules removed language from accompanying material attached to a package or given separately to a consumer regarding use of marijuana during pregnancy, warnings about the effects of marijuana, and warnings about operating vehicles or machinery while under the influence of marijuana. Language regarding use of marijuana during pregnancy was removed entirely, while the language containing warnings about the effects of marijuana and operating vehicles or machinery while under the influence of marijuana was relocated to WAC 314-55-155(6) regarding advertising requirements and promotional items.
      • Currently, WAC 314-55-086 addresses mandatory signage that a licensee must post on a licensed premises, including a notice about the prohibition of persons under twenty-one years of age on licensed premises, and the warnings that are no longer requirements for accompanying material. As a result, the board proposes to amend and update WAC 314-55-086 by clarifying language for mandatory signage. This will provide rule clarity, and assure coordinated signage so that consumer messaging regarding the use of marijuana during pregnancy is consistent and clear. Additionally, rule language was updated and streamlined to assure structural consistency, as well as uniform, clear guidance throughout the section.
      • These amendments support the overarching agency goal of ensuring the highest level of public safety by continually improving and enforcing regulations that reflect the current dynamic environment. Clarifying the rules and updating signage will not result in increased costs or administrative burden on the regulated community. Increasing consistent, clear messaging and enhancing public education efforts about the use of marijuana during pregnancy is expected to benefit the regulated community, consumers, and others.
    • In the rulemaking, the agency proposes:
      • For producers and processors, signage restricting access to persons twenty one years of age or older on licensed premises remains required while signage regarding marijuana use during pregnancy will be optional.
      • For retailers, all proposed signage would be required on licensed premises.
      • Currently, “Medical marijuana retailers” are required to post signs indicating “juvenile qualifying patients must be accompanied by their designated provider” on licensed premises. The proposed rules replace “juvenile” with “under the age of eighteen.”
      • Currently, all retailers are required to post signs that say “Should not be used by women that are pregnant or breast feeding” at each “point of sale” on the licensed premises. The proposed rules add a requirement to display a sign “In a location easily visible to employees.”
      • In contrast to existing rule, the proposed rules do not define the specific language about cannabis use which WSLCB intends to have posted at each point of sale and for employees: “…retailers must conspicuously post a sign provided by the board regarding the use of marijuana during pregnancy and breast feeding…”
    • Hoffman emphasized the absence of additional costs to licensees as the signs would be freely delivered during visits from WSLCB Enforcement using funding from the WSLCB and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
    • Board Member Russ Hauge asked: “Why would we want to have [the signs about cannabis use during pregnancy and breast feeding] at processor, producers at all?”
      • Hoffman replied: “It was a health concern, a public health concern for [WSLCB Public Health Education Liaison] Mary Segawa.”
      • Hoffman: “The idea was that folks that work in the processor/producer space could very well go into the retail space. And so if we had the sign in those facilities, it’s sort of a – educational tool, if they moved into the retail space.”
    • See the shared documents below for the accompanying Issue Paper and its research citations as well as the estimated timeline for the public hearing and effective date.
  • Hoffman presented the Board with a petition for rulemaking from Don Beckman asking that the agency more clearly define and apply the terms “resides” and “residency” (audio – 4m).
    • Hoffman cited the language in WAC 314-55-020(10) which states that “under RCW 69.50.331(1)(c), all applicants applying for a marijuana license must have resided in the state of Washington for at least six months prior to application for a marijuana license.”
    • WAC 314-55-010(36) defines “residence” as “a person’s address where he or she physically resides and maintains his or her abode.”
    • Hoffman recommended the Board deny the petition as she felt there was a clear definition of “residency” in statute and WAC that had been “uniformly applied” during the licensing process.
    • Member Hauge asserted, “I’ve got a lot of experience litigating what ‘residency’ means and the definitions we have are standard, clear, useful, do the job.”
    • The Board denied the petition for rulemaking.
  • Board Chair Jane Rushford led a far-ranging discussion into currents of fundamental change swirling at the agency (audio – 45m).
    • Topics covered included the Board’s strategic plan; anticipated change wrought by the legislature; an expansive professionally-administered survey of licensee sentiment; renaming the agency; the Board’s fundamental responsibilities; and other subjects.
    • See also Hoffman’s update suggesting the Board let the currently open vapor product rulemaking expire for re-opening with larger scope. Hoffman: “I guess what I’m trying to do is just kind of bring some alignment and structure and consistency between marijuana and vape at this time” (audio – 6m).
    • And see also Board Member Russ Hauge’s update on U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Brian Moran’s interest in the Muckleshoot Tribe’s retail cannabis drive through and potential implications for the WSLCB’s compacts with other Tribes (audio – 9m).
Here are shared documents for your review: