Washington State is taking a 30-day pause on implementing a ban on pot-infused candies after three of Washington's largest industry groups complained that the state was abruptly and arbitrary changing their own rules.
"They had requested an opportunity to give us input. The three groups are meeting later this month to discuss," said Brian Smith, a spokesperson for the state's Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB).
The state has always banned any infused edibles that are especially appealing to children, but it wasn't until earlier this month that the LCB interpreted that rule as banning any hard candy, tarts, fruit chews, colorful chocolates, jellies, and gummies. The LCB has previously approved products that fit those descriptions and some pot companies have built their business around selling such candies.
The upcoming ban left the industry scrambling and brought together three of the largest trade groups in the state: the Cannabis Alliance, the Washington Cannabusiness Association (WACA), and the Cannabis Organization of Retail Establishments (CORE). The three groups signed what they called a "first of its kind" statement, calling the LCB's rule change "abrupt" and "unilateral."
"No regulated industry can survive when regulatory activity is unpredictable. Additionally, the manner in which the LCB handled this issue creates an impression of noncompliance that is utterly unwarranted and untrue," the groups said in a letter to the LCB.
Smith said LCB Director Rick Garza also had discussions with the industry.
Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for WACA, said the group is now working on submitting a proposal for how the state should regulate infused candies.
"We are pleased that the LCB has decided to solicit input from license holders and other stakeholders following the sudden announcement of this new rule earlier this month," Pickus said in a text message.
Brooke Davies, executive director of CORE, said she welcomed the state's 30-day delay.
"...however we realize that there is still a lot of work ahead of us on this issue," Davies said in an e-mail. "CORE is hopeful that, through working together with the other WA industry associations, the industry will bring forward the best proposal possible that allows us to continue to have infused products on the market while protecting our shared goal of preventing youth access."
The state had planned to host a webinar on Wednesday explaining their updated policy but they have since canceled that notice. Will you be able to chew on a pot-infused gummy in the new year? We'll let you know when we have more answers.
Lara Kaminsky, the executive director of the Cannabis Alliance, got back to me and said the 30-day pause isn't giving any stability to the industry. Kaminsky pointed to how companies still must submit their products for label approval, but are now forced to wait for the LCB to make a decision.
"The result is that some businesses are in a holding pattern waiting for an uncertain outcome; a challenging situation for any business to endure," Kaminsky said in an e-mail.
"We are furiously working on a proposal that we can submit collectively as an industry and will be hosting an industry roundtable on the 25th to determine our recommendations. We are hopeful that we can come to a mutually beneficial solution that works for all stakeholders," Kaminsky added.