OLYMPIA – The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) today released to cannabis licensees and industry trade organizations draft legislation the agency is considering requesting for the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
The first proposal would grant the smallest producers additional privileges to help them compete in a highly-competitive marketplace as well as create additional access to medical cannabis products by medical patients. The legislation follows repeated requests in these areas from segments of the industry, medical patients and stakeholders.
A second proposal would allow local governments to request a limited number of additional retail stores in their jurisdiction that prioritizes for licensure groups disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition laws.
“This summer marked the five-year point of legal retail cannabis sales in Washington State,” said WSLCB Director Rick Garza. “These proposals reflect the Board’s recognition of both the advances the market has made as well as segments that have been underserved or at a competitive disadvantage.”
Medical Cannabis Access/Small Producer Sustainability
The first proposal would grant the smallest cannabis growers (Tier I producers authorized to grow up to 2,000 square feet of canopy) retail privileges for medical cannabis products and medical patients. Medical cannabis retail access opportunities, if approved by local government, could include home delivery, sales directly from production sites, or through a limited number of shared retail outlets open no more than two days per month.
Tier 1 producers have stated that they are a competitive disadvantage due to economies of scale. The largest grow operations, Tier 3 producers, are able to use up to 30,000 square feet of growing space. Statewide, there are 190 active Tier 1 producers, 488 Tier 2 producers, and 426 Tier 3 producers.
Historically, the impact of cannabis prohibition enforcement has fallen disproportionately upon communities of color. Yet, Initiative 502, the measure that created Washington’s legal system, did not provide licensure incentives people of color. Under the WSLCB proposal, a limited number of additional cannabis retail licenses are prioritized for people of color, veterans and women. The new retail licenses would come from local government requests for additional retail stores in their jurisdictions, as well as re-issuance of a small number of previously granted but now discontinued licenses.
In addition, a small new competitive grant program would be created to provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs whose backgrounds and business plans reflect social equity goals, helping them to enter the industry and successfully launch their businesses.
The WSLCB will consider any input on the drafts from the licensee and cannabis trade organizations before submitting to the governor’s office in mid-September.