Washington Bud Company
Smokey Point, WA
Big news! We participated in an industry event IN PERSON this summer! We travelled to Walla Walla, Washington, to gather with regulators, lawmakers, other stakeholders and quite a few lobbyists. The entire region surrounding Walla Walla is known for impressive vineyards and fine wineries. It is one of those regions where having a wine buzz before noon is quite acceptable. Interestingly, that same region is also known for banning the cannabis industry, so it was a curious location but one we had yet to visit, so off we went.
The event’s themes were centered around the next 10 years. Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board director Rick Garza expressed frustration that states have to take the lead on what to do about the practice of converting hemp CBD isolate into psychoactive, synthetic THC molecules, stating that the FDA should have stepped in on the topic. In the meantime, the WSLCB policy advises licensees against the practice but claims no authority to stop it. Incredible.
The legislative panel was so robust it burst the seams of the stage. There was a time when our state senators and representatives scurried away from cannabis events, but this lobby-hosted event had great participation with seven lawmakers crowding a table meant for four. All seemed to agree that nearing Washington’s 10-year legalization mark, it is time to improve our landscape to better support Washington’s licensed cannabis companies in the face of likely federal legalization.
State Rep. Shelley Kloba expressed her ongoing concern that medical marijuana patients are not utilizing the regulated system in a meaningful way. Her bill to remove the 37% sin tax for qualified patients should greatly improve that dynamic. Rep. Emily Wicks sponsored the “Craft Cannabis” bill last year and asked me over lunch how it could be improved. She is adamant that Washington state should support cannabis businesses as it does for wineries and breweries. Rep. Sharon Wiley stated that she will not support bills designed to make only a few happy as she is “haunted by what happened” to the demise of the small liquor store owners when liquor sales opened to Costco and grocery chains. And Sen. Marko Liias promised that we would see many measures on cannabis policy reform in the upcoming session, which indicates more of an open door in Olympia than I have seen to date.
Two often-expressed needs were for more cannabis research and to address how to brand Washington in the lead-up to interstate commerce. As a solution, Rep. Kloba voiced support to pass the Washington State Cannabis Commission bill in 2022, a pet project I have helped foster.
In all, we are glad we made the trip. It was nice to see smiles all around as we crawled out from beneath our COVID rocks to once again gather as cannabis advocates.