Marijuana regulators in Washington State will entertain sweeping changes to how marijuana is tested, processed, packaged and sold in one of the U.S.’s oldest recreational marijuana markets, officials announced late Wednesday.
Recreational cannabis has been sold in regulated retail outlets in Washington since 2014. Consumers there pay one of the country’s highest tax burdens, generating nearly $400 million in revenue through the first three years of legalization, as the Stranger reported in late 2017.
But medical marijuana patients have long complained about limited product availability. And a recent string of testing labs suspended for erratic results that allowed unsafe product to reach retail shelves has shaken confidence in product safety.
“Requests from the industry have…been received regarding testing requirements, and changes in testing requirements in other states have prompted further review of WSLCB rules for potential adjustment,” the new notice from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said. “Additionally, the WSLCB has heard from the medical marijuana patient community that they would like to see additional product types or levels of potency that are not currently supported by the regulatory structure.”
“For these reasons, changes to products, serving amounts in packaging, and other related requirements may be considered,” the regulators announced Wednesday.
Wednesday evening’s notice is the initial notification of potential rulemaking, and “no rule language is offered at this stage of the process.”
Members of the public can submit comments or proposals until October 24. No proposed rules changes are expected to be filed until “on or after October 31,” the notice said.
“Following the comment period, the agency will send out and publish the proposed rules, establish a comment period on the proposed rules, and hold a public hearing before the rules are adopted,” according to the agency.
Until then, the agency “will consider the following topics for potential rulemaking changes,” according to Wednesday’s notice:
- Lot and batch sizes;
- Fields of testing and pass/fail level adjustments;
- Potency testing requirements;
- Pesticide testing requirements for all cannabis products;
- Heavy metals testing requirements;
- Sample deduction requirements;
- General testing rule adjustments;
- Product, THC serving limits, and packaging requirements; and
- “Other related rule changes that may be necessary or advisable,” according to the notice.
Whatever “further adjustments” the agency will propose are meant to “increase efficiencies in testing” and “increase the availability of compliant [cannabis] products,” the notice said.
Anyone interested in submitting comments or proposed rules can contact Joanna Eide, Policy and Rules Coordinator, at [email protected].
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Washington State Prepares To Rewrite Marijuana Testing And Packaging Rules
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash
Two recent developments on Capitol Hill demonstrate the government’s growing support of the marijuana industry. A U.S. Senate committee passed a bill that will permit banks to do business with dispensaries in states where cannabis has been legalized. Additionally, the bill will finally allow Washington, D.C., to set up and regulate dispensaries.
The votes come on the heels of three other marijuana-related amendments the committee approved this year. Two of those keep the Drug Enforcement Agency from sabotaging state laws regarding hemp research and medical marijuana, and the other amendment permits doctors with the Veterans Administration to suggest cannabis as a treatment for their patients.
The bill regarding D.C. dispensaries is significant as the city has legalized growing, using and possessing marijuana. However, selling marijuana is still considered illegal, which critics say leads to a lack of logical restrictions such as setting an age limit for users. The passage of this amendment would give the city more control and enable it to tax the plant.
Across the country, states are increasingly approving of marijuana use in some form. In Colorado, Alaska, Washington and Oregon, cannabis is legalized like alcohol. Twenty-three states have established laws that legalize medical marijuana, and another 16 states have permitted the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid often used to manage seizures in children with epilepsy.
The trend of marijuana acceptance extends to the DEA. In April, the agency’s former leader resigned after it became evident that her ideas regarding drug policy reform were dated. According to the White House, the new chief will place less emphasis on cannabis enforcement.
The shift in laws and attitudes reflects a movement toward decriminalizing marijuana use. This year, the U.S. House of Representatives four times upheld a state’s rights to set its own laws regarding cannabis. In a move that shocked many, a measure to prevent federal interference in states legalizing cannabis similarly to alcohol failed, but by a small margin of just nine votes.
Legalization is only part of the battle advocates face, as laws regarding drug sentences in many states need revision. Dozens of states have already begun reforming their policies. Across party lines, many feel that federal sentencing guidelines and asset forfeiture rules should be revisited as well.
Recently, the White House showcased a policy known as LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, which promotes placing drug offenders in support services, such as treatment programs, as opposed to prison. Several cities have already adopted the practice. There are also measures in place in 28 states to protect people who witness overdoses. So-called 911 Good Samaritan laws prevent people who call for medical help from getting arrested and prosecuted.
Over the course of the next 16 months, voters across the country will decide whether or not marijuana will be legalized in their home states. Additionally, cities such as Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Atlanta could take up programs similar to LEAD.
Advocates warn that there is a strong opposition to marijuana reform coming from parties that profit from the drug war, such as prosecutors and police unions. It will take funding, bipartisan support and successful ballot measures to keep progress headed in the right direction.