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Canopy Update

Recently the agency has been reaching out to licensees about how the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) defines and measures cannabis canopy. The 2018 outdoor growing season will begin soon. Before it does, it’s important that producers are reminded of canopy regulations and how the WSLCB measures canopy.
Last year, our field canopy team often found discrepancies between the floor plan provided to WSLCB during licensure and what was being used in practice. Licensees operating outside of their operating plan is a violation of rule and subject to enforcement action. Your dedicated growing space cannot exceed the maximum square footage for your tier and canopy space must be clearly indicated on your floor plan with measurements or a reference scale. 
Prior to making any changes to your floor plan, you must have your floor plan approved. If you are planning to make floor plan changes, or if your floor plan has changed since it was provided to licensing, please complete the Request to Alter Marijuana Site and/or Operating Plan application on on the Marijuana Licensing section of the LCB website. 
How we Measure Canopy Plant canopy: Is defined and measured by the square footage dedicated to live plant production on an official Operating Plan submitted by the licensee that is approved and retained by the WSLCB. Plant production is to include for this definition: maintaining vegetative plants, flowering plants, and mother plants. This definition and measurement does not include seeds, plant tissue, or clones that are less than eight inches in height or width. Plant canopy does not include areas such as space used for the storage of fertilizers, pesticides, or other products, quarantine, or office facilities.
Examples
  • Dedicated Growing Space. When a licensee has indicated that a space or multiple spaces on their operating plan will be dedicated to growing cannabis, the sum of the single or multiple allocated cultivation space will result in the licensed canopy at that facility. 
  • Multi-Level Growing Space. In the scenario of a dedicated growing space utilizing multiple levels, stories, or racks, canopy will be calculated for each level, story or rack utilized, and the sum of the growing spaces will be the canopy measurement. 
  • Non-Horizontal Growing Space. In the scenario of a dedicated growing space utilizes a non-horizontal surface for growing cannabis. Canopy measurements will be adjusted to incorporate the growing space that the cannabis would inhabit if it was grown in a flat, horizontal manner. 
Again this is a reminder of the current rules. The WSLCB will recognize and measure canopy as indicated above until further notice. As cannabis production is in constant evolution and new innovative ways to grow cannabis emerge, we strongly encourage all licensees to talk with their enforcement officer prior to implementing any new growing methodologies to assure that you stay within compliance with state regulations.

Driver License Numbering Change Coming Soon

The Department of Licensing (DOL) is launching a new driver licensing system September 4, 2018. With the new system, DOL is changing the numbering scheme for driver licenses (standard and enhanced), identification cards, and commercial driver licenses.
The new driver licensing number (DLN) scheme will still use 12 characters. The first three letters will begin with WDL followed by a combination of randomly generated letters and numbers.  The new DLN will be more secure because it does not use protected personal information like name or birthdate.
After September 4, every person receiving a license for the first time in Washington will receive one with the new DLN format. People who already have a license or identification card will get the new DLN on it at their next issuance event after September 4---when they renew their license, or replace it for some reason.
It will take six years to replace the numbers on all the licenses and identification cards with the new DLN format.  This means we will have both versions in circulation until 2024.

Thinking About Moving Your Cannabis Business?

Cannabis licenses are tied to the approved location. Prior to moving your cannabis business to a new location, you must receive approval. We will investigate the new location to make sure it meets all licensing requirements in chapter 69.50 RCW and 314-55 WAC. To begin the process, submit an application with Business License Services here. When the WSLCB receives your application, your assigned investigator will contact you for an interview. You may move your business and begin operating after the new licensed location is approved.

Producer and Processor Applications – Almost Done!

Licensing has nearly completed processing all the producer and processor applications we received in 2013. As you may recall, the Licensing Division received over 7,000 applications during the 30-day application window. Over the past several years, investigators have been working diligently with license applicants to meet all the licensing requirements. We plan to have all the producer and processor applications complete within the next month.

Is a Ban or Moratorium Preventing you from Opening a Retail Location?

On April 18 2018, the Board approved Liquor and Cannabis Board Interim Policy BIP-04-2018, which allows retail cannabis licensees who are located in an area with a ban or moratorium to apply for a retail Title Certificate. The Board intends to provide relief to retail cannabis licensees who are unable to open due to local ordinances. Applicants must maintain all licensing requirements until they are issued a Title Certificate. Retail cannabis licensees who are located in jurisdictions that meet the following criteria may apply for a Title Certificate:
  • A ban or moratorium that applies to the entire jurisdiction;
  • Zoning rules that prohibit retail cannabis licensees from opening throughout the entire jurisdiction;
  • Ordinances that prohibit retail cannabis licensees from opening without federal approval; or
  • Ordinances with an allotment smaller than that of the WSLCB, and the jurisdiction met their allotment prior to the licensee being issued the license.
Licensing has been working to develop a list of the licensees who are eligible. We will be sending letters to the approximately 50 licensees who meet the criteria above to invite them to apply for a Title Certificate.
The Title Certificate eliminates the following license requirements for retail cannabis licensees to maintain:
  • A physical location;
  • Security cameras;
  • Traceability;
  • Annual license fees;
  • Insurance requirements; and
  • Sales reporting.
Click here for more information about the new interim policy.

Licensing Webinars

Our Licensing Division provides free WebEx classes for applicants and licensees about a variety of alcohol and cannabis related topics. These classes, led by agency experts, are geared towards users and their questions. 
Please check out the upcoming classes and sign up for the topics that interest you.  We record each session, so if you missed a session you are interested in, check out our archives.

Observations from the Field

-A message from Commander Jennifer Dzubay
Regarding Drop Boxes for Testing
It has come to our attention through complaints and questions that some labs are using offsite drop boxes to obtain samples. This practice has never been authorized by the WSLCB.  We would like to clarify for all labs and licensees that samples must be physically accepted at the location that has been certified to perform cannabis testing.  
Labs may not have off-site, non-certified locations that intake samples that will later be transported to the testing facility, nor are unmanned drop boxes allowed. Testing is only allowed at facilities where the lab is certified. Storing marijuana samples at a location other than where you have been certified by the WSLCB to operate is also not allowed.
It is permissible to have lab staff utilize a “Pick up Manifest” to pick up samples from licensees and deliver them to your certified testing facility.

Random Pesticide Sampling

In 2016, the WSLCB contracted with Department of Agriculture for dedicated equipment and lab technicians to screen for presence of pesticides as part of complaint investigations.
Marijuana Non-Retail Enforcement officers are beginning a more proactive approach to prevent prohibited pesticide use. They will be collecting 75 random samples per month of wet marijuana plant material from licensed marijuana producers across the state. Officers will collect enough material at a particular location to obtain a representation of the product at the facility.
Should a sample test positive for a prohibited pesticide, enforcement officers will return to the producer and conduct a thorough pesticide audit of the entire facility. The use of prohibited pesticides may result in a violation penalty from $5000 to $15000 (depending on tier size) along with the mandatory destruction of affected product that test above the action levels found in WAC 314-55-108. Affected product sent to processors or retailers may also initiate a recall.
Licensees should ensure that if they choose to use pesticides, that those products are approved prior to using them. Licensees are also encouraged to ensure marijuana material purchased from other producers has not been treated by a prohibited pesticide. The current list of approved pesticides can be found by accessing the PICOL list at http://cru66.cahe.wsu.edu/LabelTolerance.html
Please contact your assigned officer if you have any questions.

Unsafe Extraction Systems

Officers are finding unsafe and/or un-certified extraction systems in the field. Operating an unapproved extraction system poses a serious threat to the health and welfare of both your business and the public. Because the risk is so high the penalty for this violation is license cancellation. Please remember that licensees are required to use a closed loop extraction system and: 
  • Closed loop systems must be commercially manufactured and bear a permanently affixed and visible serial number.
  • Certification from a licensed engineer must be provided to the WSLCB for professional grade closed loop systems used by processors to certify that the system was commercially manufactured, safe for its intended use, and built to codes of recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices
  • The certification document must contain the signature and stamp of a professional engineer and the serial number of the extraction unit being certified.
In addition to those requirements professional closed loop systems, other equipment used, the extraction operation, and facilities must be approved for their use by the local fire code official and meet any required fire, safety, and building codes (see WAC 314-55-104 - processor requirements and WAC 51-54A-3800 - state fire codes). 

How Does the LCB use Research?

Trecia Ehrlich, LCB Researcher

Cannabis Rules Update

Several rulemakings are currently underway and are detailed below. As always, we encourage your participation in the rulemaking process and value public input. You can find information about any current rulemaking on the Proposed Rules webpage under Laws and Rules on the WLSCB’s website. You can also find additional materials related to rulemaking items brought to Board meetings on the Board’s webpage under Board Meeting Schedule and Information, here.
Cannabis Advertising Rules
  • The Legislature made significant changes to advertising restrictions and requirements for cannabis licensees in RCW 69.50.369 through passing ESSB 5131, effective July 23, 2017.
  • Rule changes provide further clarification to the new requirements and to adhere to legislative direction included in ESSB 5131. New advertising rules became effective on March 10, 2018 and are available on the Recently Adopted Rules webpage.
Retail License Forfeiture Rules
This rulemaking is to establish a retail license forfeiture process as required by changes to RCW 69.50.325 made by the Legislature in 2017. The WSLCB made changes to the proposal (Supplemental CR-102) after the filing of initial rules. The proposed rules are currently open for written comment and public hearing will be held May 16, 2018. If no changes are made to the proposed rules the rules will be brought to the Board for final adoption on May 30, 2018.
2018 Cannabis Legislation 
A CR-101 was issued on April 4, 2018, to initiate the rulemaking process for 2018 Cannabis Legislation. This rulemaking will involve rule changes or new rules to create testing requirements for CBD products not generated within the regulated cannabis industry that licensees seek to use in creating cannabis products. These rule changes are necessary to implement the changes to law in ESSHB 2334. Other related changes may be considered as part of this rulemaking. WSLCB will work with the Department of Health as needed.
How can you participate in the rulemaking process?
Check out our Proposed Rules webpage under Laws and Rules on the WLSCB’s website and submit comments to rules@lcb.wa.gov. All rulemaking activity occurs at Board meetings. You can access Board agendas and meeting materials at the Board’s webpage: Board Meeting Schedule and Information.

Legislative Fact Sheets Now Available

We've recently posted fact sheets for legislation pertaining to alcohol and cannabis that passed this session. They provide brief summaries, contact information and can be found on the LCB website

Reminder: Traceability Contact Information and Workarounds

Do you know who to contact for help with marijuana traceability issues?  Click here for workarounds to known issues within Leaf Data Systems. This table is updated as issues change and are resolved.
For technical support with Leaf Data Systems:
     Call 888-420-5813
For questions about your license:
     Call 360-664-1600
     Visit lcb.wa.gov
For questions about taxes:
     Call 360-664-1789
     Visit lcb.wa.gov
For Traceability compliance questions:
     Call 360-664-1614

Promote public safety and trust through fair administration and enforcement of liquor, cannabis, tobacco, and vapor laws.
-WSLCB Mission Statement
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