Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) may soon lose all oversight of the state’s legal cannabis lab testing due to corruption.
Recently, the state Senate passed House Bill 2052 by a nearly unanimous 44-1 vote. The bill, which strips LCB’s authority over weed lab testing and hands it over to the state’s Department of Ecology, previously passed in the House, and now it awaits the governor’s signature to become law.
In 2014, Washington became the second US state to launch legal recreational weed sales. The state’s industry, worth over a billion dollars annually, risks losing consumer confidence after years of reports alleging that the LCB conspired with labs and pot companies to artificially inflate the THC values of regulated weed products.
By state law, all weed products must include THC content on the packaging labels. Because THC is the plant compound responsible for cannabis’s characteristic high, businesses can charge more for products with higher THC values — whether those values are real or not.
“It’s been known for a while that we needed to have a stronger accreditation program for the labs,” said Rep. Derek Stanford, a Democrat who sponsored the bill.
“There are some problems in the way that system runs where producers have found some ways to abuse that system to try to get results more to their liking, and that’s not acceptable.”
Even the LCB’s president, Rick Garza, reportedly said he wanted to give up the board’s control over the state’s lab testing after legislators accused it of becoming a “toxic culture.” Under House Bill 2052, legal weed lab testing will be monitored and regulated by the state’s Department of Ecology.
Below is a list of recent cannabis legislation passed by the Washington Senate:
Senate Bill 5318: Reforms the compliance and enforcement provisions for marijuana licensees. MJ businesses and trade associations previously complained about inconsistent and unfair enforcement. Under this bill, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) can issue licensees a notice of correction describing a noncompliant condition, instead of a civil penalty. In addition, a single violation won’t result in a license being revoked unless the violation meets certain conditions, such as the illicit sale of MJ across state lines or furnishing cannabis to minors.
Senate Bill 5298: Allows marijuana product labels to include claims that “describe the product’s intended role in maintaining a structure or function of the body.”
House Bill 1792: Reduces the criminal charge from felony to gross misdemeanor for a budtender at a licensed shop who sells marijuana to someone younger than 21 years old.
House Bill 2052: Establishes a cannabis science task force to develop laboratory quality standards. Also transfers the authority for testing lab accreditation from the LCB to the Department of Ecology, effective July 1, 2024.