Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
In the mid-1970s, a clairvoyant told me that my soul’s past includes being a French revolutionary leader. I don’t know about that, but I seem to gravitate toward advocacy. I will advocate for what I believe until either victory, exhaustion or revision and will do my best to encourage others to join me. It keeps me engaged in current conversations and helps me stay informed. But it can also be so all-consuming that I’m learning to only take on the battles I really care about.
My column in the January 2020 issue of Marijuana Venture addressed the economic impact to small businesses by proposed testing rules for Washington state’s cannabis industry. During this multiyear process, regulators have claimed they have too little feedback from stakeholders to make substantive changes to the proposal, so it became apparent the independent licensees needed to rally and join our voices in unison.
Reaching enough licensees in time for the hearing this past November was crucial. Working with the Washington Sungrowers Industry Association, I dusted off an old email list created in 2015, combined it with an updated list provided by WSIA, logged into an over-judgmental industry forum and began posting and emailing. WSIA’s executive director, Crystal Oliver, sent emails daily leading up to the hearing, directing people on how to sign up for testimony and where to send their written testimony.
The results paid off. The hearing had 47 people sign up to testify. It lasted two-and-a-half hours and ended before everyone had a chance to speak, including me, due to some technology issues in the Zoom meeting.
Because of the technical challenges during the hearing, the deadline for written testimony was extended by 24 hours. More than 100 letters were received by the deadline. The over-arching message was that people wanted testing to ensure clean cannabis, but the proposed rule would not only be economically harmful, but would not successfully ensure clean cannabis. Many of us asked for third-party sampling or advocated to fully utilize the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s program and put the cost burden on the state.
Now we wait. The state agency must sift through the responses, log them into public record and respond in some way. It is anticipated there are three paths this rule proposal could take: a) expire after six months of no activity; b) manifest into a second substitute with significant language changes; or c) be withdrawn and begun again. There is no loser option as all three will give us another go at getting a good rule established.
And while this bit of activism may not compare to the French revolution, it sure feels good to know I can make a difference.