Washington Capital, Olympia

Stephen Colebourne

Private Confirmation of Washington Cannabis Regulators Sparks Outrage

Confirmation hearings for Washington state regulators are being kept private despite industry calls for them to become public and open to comment during the confirmation.

Full story after the jump.

The Washington CannaBusiness Association and others in the Washington state cannabis industry are frustrated with the private selection and confirmation of state cannabis regulators, The Stranger reports.

Washington’s cannabis industry has been troubled by the state cannabis regulation, which is conducted by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board.

“Our members in the regulated cannabis industry are concerned about the culture of the LCB, which is under the purview of an unelected board of directors, and whose enforcement behavior is the catalyst for bipartisan support for compliance reform this session.” — Vicki Christophersen, Executive Director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, via The Stranger

Three board members are up for confirmation in a private hearing: Jane Rushford, Russell Hauge, and Ollie Garrett. According to state Sen. Karen Keiser, who oversees the committee responsible for the confirmations, Russell Hauge’s term is expiring and he is not up for confirmation and will be replaced.

The Liquor and Cannabis Control Board has been criticized for several decisions in the last year, like the organization’s outright ban on all infused candies, which was later reversed. The LCB has also been criticized for lax enforcement of illegal pesticide use, broken seed-to-sale tracking software, and unfair punishment for cannabis businesses for minor infractions.

Sen. Karen Keiser told The Stranger she wouldn’t open the hearing to the public. According to Keiser, the period for public comment was in the last legislative session. “Confirmation hearings are not for people to come and trash people. If people have a problem with Jane Rushford or Ollie Garret they should let me know. If they have a problem with the entire agency they should let me know,” said Keiser.

Keiser admitted the enforcement issues are a concern but pointed to bills currently being considered by Washington state lawmakers that would fix the issues.

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