Looking to the new year, some of Washington state’s cannabis businesses are focused on safety challenges, including ongoing store robberies, and preparing for the potential of interstate marijuana commerce.
That’s according to the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), a trade association in the state that represents marijuana retailers, producers, processors, transporters and banks.
The group recently held a webinar regarding upcoming cannabis policymaking after members submitted ideas to set the legislative agenda for next year.
Regarding the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen said “it feels like we’re in a little bit of a downturn on that right now.”
But she still has hope something can happen with the federal legislation.
Christophersen expects state legislation to develop next year that deals with social equity in the industry, particularly at the retail level.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s bill would allow new social equity cannabis licenses based on an increase in population in the state. Christophersen estimated that would mean about 90 new marijuana retail licenses.
Delta-8 products in Washington state could also see strong regulations in 2023, according to Christophersen, and steps taken to ensure that any products with THC must be within the regulated market and not allowed outside that market.
“This loophole of products out in the convenience stores and gas stations presents a public-safety issue and also presents an unfair competition to the regulated industry,” she added.
The WACA is also advocating for the law to allow cannabis business access to capital that comes from outside the state.
“Washington is one of only two states that does not allow a cannabis business to access normal funding tools – venture capital, angel investors, equity partners – the kinds of things that a typical business looks to grow their business,” Christophersen said.
“It’s time for the state to really take a look at that and figure out how to how to give our licensees tools there.”
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.