Washington

Washington State's Vaping Response Targets THC Products

Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order that requires the state’s cannabis regulator to immediately ban THC vaping products that are identified by the US CDC and FDA as the cause of the lung disease epidemic. The Governor also directed the State Board of Health to use its emergency rulemaking authority to ban flavored vaping products, including THC products, at its meeting on September 9, 2019.

Washington’s response to the vaping epidemic is broader and requires the state’s regulator to act quicker than those issued recently by California, New York, and Michigan. The order directs the cannabis industry to immediately post signs warning consumers about the risks of vaping and to disclose all compounds used in the processing and production of vape products.

The state’s cannabis regulator, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, notified licensees of these requirements, which include:

  • The posting of the vape products warning sign in each store;

  • The disclosure of all compounds contained in THC products including additives, CBD and other cannabinoids;

  • The disclosure to the LCB of all solvents, ingredients, and additives used in the processing and production of vape products;

  • Cooperating with investigators; and

  • Voluntarily educating consumers about issues related to vape products.

The cannabis industry will also be impacted by the bills that will be sponsored by Governor Inslee during the 2020 legislative session. The bills provide the state with additional oversight of the vaping industry and provide money to fund enforcement efforts in the black market.

We expect most states will propose vaping legislation in 2020. The legislation will require additional product disclosures, warning signs, flavor bans, and testing requirements. The cannabis industry may consider bolstering industry best practices to incorporate manufacturing and marketing standards. This proactive response could help shape what the legislation will look like in 2020.

Washington Bans CBD Infused Food Products

The Washington State Department of Agriculture issued a statement indicating that the sale of CBD infused food is not permitted in the state. Washington joins other states including Michigan, New York, California, Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina that do not permit the sale of CBD infused food and beverages.

The 2018 Farm Bill and the FDA left it to the states to figure it out the next steps in developing a retail CBD market. This state-by-state approach has made a complicated situation even more complicated.

The WDOA follows the US FDA guidance with regards to cbd related products. The US FDA only permits hemp oil to be used in food products as it is generally considered to be safe. The US FDA considers CBD to be a drug that may not be used as a food ingredient or added to food.

As each state enacts legislation to implement the 2018 Farm Bill, the state regulators and law enforcement agencies are left to struggle with how CBD should be classified and regulated. The good news is that the states are affirmatively asserting positions with regards to the legal sale of CBD oil. The bad news is that the answers vary greatly with little uniformity from state-to-state. The end result is a patchwork that prevents a national approach to the manufacture and distribution of CBD products.


Washington Could Allow Structure and Function Claims on Marijuana Product Labels

The Washington Legislature presented Governor Inslee with a bill for his signature that allows marijuana licensees to provide consumers with more information on a product label. The new law would allow licensees to include a description of the intended role of a nutrient or dietary ingredient in a product on the structure or function of the body. Businesses seeking to use a structure or function claim must be able to back up these claims with evidence so that the claims are not considered to be untruthful.

Washington’s House amended the original bill to remove a list of words that could be used to describe the intended role on the structure or function of the body including "wellness," "well-being," "health," "maintain," "support," "assist," "promote," and "relief," and derivatives of any such terms. The new law requires businesses labeling products with a structure or function claim to include a disclaimer indicating that “[t]his statement has not been evaluated by the State of Washington. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." Businesses should also review the product label for compliance with federal regulations if needed.

Washington Legislature Approves Bill Promoting Compliance Education Rather than Enforcement

The Washington Legislature voted to enact a law that allows cannabis businesses an opportunity to fix issues identified before they are fined by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB). The bill is intended to refocus the state’s regulators from regulating though enforcement efforts to educating marijuana licensees on how licensees can meet the regulator’s compliance expectations. The bill limits the WSLCB’s ability to bring enforcement efforts against licensees for mistakes that do not directly harm the public health or safety.

Washington’s Legislature recognizes that local entrepreneurs assumed financial and other risk to build the marijuana industry, and that the industry will make mistakes as it grows. The new law requires the WSLCB to provide a marijuana licensee with a notice of correction for issues identified by the regulator during an inspection, and a statement on how the licensee can achieve compliance. The WSLCB may only issue a penalty if the licensee fails to comply with the notice of correction or engages in similar non-compliant activity. However, the new law does not limit the WSLCB’s ability to initiate an enforcement action for illegal activities outlined in the Cole memo including diversion of marijuana, the sale of marijuana to a minor, and diversion of money to criminal enterprises.

Washington Legislature Passes Bill to Implement Hemp Licensing Program

Washington’s Legislature passed a bill that creates a hemp licensing and regulatory program that is required to implement the 2018 Farm Bill. The Department of Agriculture (DOA) is responsible for implementing rules establishing the hemp production licensing regime by June 2019. Businesses that are already licensed under the industrial hemp research program can transfer over into the new program. Businesses will continue to operate under the current research program if the DOA is not able to meet the June 2019 deadline.

The legislation charges with DOA with developing standards for creating hemp extracts that is intended for consumption, and the production of nonhemp food in accordance with state and federal regulations. The Department of Agricultural and the Liquor and Cannabis Board to establish policies and buffers that would prevent the cross pollination of marijuana and hemp. The bill requires the policy to provide preference to the producer that was first to grow, and require the second to cease operations.

Washington Legislature Passes Intellectual Property Licensing Agreement Bill

The Washington Legislature passed bill HB 1794 to expand the ability of cannabis businesses to enter into intellectual property agreements for trademarked goods or services. The bill will become law if it is signed by Governor Islee. The new law would allow parties to enter into exclusivity arrangements, receive royalty payments up to 10% of gross sales, and employ quality control measures to ensure the brand’s integrity.

Businesses entering into a marijuana licensing agreement must disclose the arrangement to the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board and comply with recordkeeping requirements. Businesses licensing intellectual property that comply with the terms of the agreement are exempt from qualifying for a marijuana business license.

Free Cannabis Legislative Tracker For 20 States: Access THC, Hemp And CBD Bills

Access our free legislative trackers for Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. Review and access the cannabis & hemp bills introduced by the State Legislatures in the 2019-2020 session. The trackers include a summary description of the legislation, status and link to the full legislative text. The legislative trackers will be updated on a weekly basis.

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board First Year Canopy Survey with Surprising Results

Surprising, at least to us, almost 1/3 of the licensees had no canopy, meaning no square footage in live plant production.

Another surprise, the survey team consistently observed less active canopy than what was licensed.

The reason?

Washington State licensees said:

  1. It is expensive to develop canopy space,

  2. Market prices for cannabis have been consistently declining,

  3. Access to capital investment is problematic, and

  4. The traceability transition has been difficult.

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Tier 1 – Less than two thousand square feet; Tier 2 – Two thousand square feet up to ten thousand square feet;  Tier 3 – Ten thousand square feet up to thirty thousand square feet.

Tier 1 – Less than two thousand square feet;
Tier 2 – Two thousand square feet up to ten thousand square feet;
Tier 3 – Ten thousand square feet up to thirty thousand square feet.

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Free Cannabis Legislative Tracker For 20 States: Access THC, Hemp And CBD Bills

Access our free legislative trackers for Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. Review and access the cannabis & hemp bills introduced by the State Legislatures in the 2019-2020 session. The trackers include a summary description of the legislation, status and link to the full legislative text. The legislative trackers will be updated on a weekly basis.

Free Cannabis Legislative Tracker For 20 States: Access THC, Hemp And CBD Bills

Access our free legislative trackers for Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. Review and access the cannabis & hemp bills introduced by the State Legislatures in the 2019-2020 session. The trackers include a summary description of the legislation, status and link to the full legislative text. The legislative trackers will be updated on a weekly basis.