The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has released data regarding its enforcement actions between Sept. 2014 and early July.
The data shows that the LCB has been involved in more than 4,500 enforcement actions with licensed recreational marijuana facilities.
The term ‘enforcement action’ can be misleading. Such actions aren’t always related to rule-breaking. They may simply be standard regulatory outreach measures, such as licensing inspections.
According to LCB reports, 65% of the enforcement actions were phone calls and premises checks, while 13% were license inspections. Just 12% were related to complaints against businesses.
In other cases, these actions are initiated by complaints and can result in penalties against the company. The LCB penalized 143 firms 274 times in the 10-month period beginning in September. The most common violation was a failure to establish or maintain “traceability of inventory.”
Among the 274 violations, 57% involved fines, which ranged from $500 to $5,000.
Ryan Agnew, a cannabis attorney based in Seattle, says that “the vast majority of these [violations] are not willful disobedience; people are just trying to figure things out.”
For instance, producers and processors didn’t know they were required to test extractions twice: once upon the completion of extraction, and again after infusing edibles and topicals or converting extractions to cartridges.
“That particular requirement wasn’t discovered until businesses started receiving violations for not testing twice,” said Agnew.
All this is normal for an industry still finding its footing, and the number of violations should decrease in the coming months. Of course, Jon Hofer, the principal at RMMC Consulting, which works with firms in the industry, notes that “figuring [things] out as you go in this industry isn’t really healthy to do.”
Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale
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