Washington was one of the first states to trail blaze the legal cannabis industry over 4 years ago but the industry has evolved significantly since then. Marijuana regulators at the Liquor and Cannabis Board are embarking on a regulation reformation they call “Cannabis 2.0.” They’ve kept a close eye on other states who have legalized recreational marijuana and are adopting some of their approaches to create a more stable and sustainable marketplace.
Regulators readily admit that it’s been difficult to focus on a long-term strategy as much of their time has been occupied with creating regulations that deal with present problems. Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board Director Rick Garza noted that, “We've typically been so challenged with the issues of the day we haven't been looking out long-term to determine what the future looks like.”
The Cannabis 2.0 proposal is an attempt to make changes that will benefit the industry over the course of the next five years. While the state is not ready to start licensing new marijuana dispensaries, they are interested in establishing a social equity program that would provide opportunities to those who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.There have been eleven licenses abandoned by dispensaries and regulators are considering reassigning these to social equity applicants.
The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board will also be considering a new round of licensing for social equity applicants if cities and counties agree that more retailers are appropriate. Legislators will also be drafting bills that will establish a technical assistance program for social equity applicants that would provide access to grants of at least $100,000 per year.
Another significant change in the Cannabis 2.0 proposal is making home delivery an option for small licensed cultivators operating less than 2,000 square feet of canopy space. Delivery would also be available to collective retail businesses who could make also make on-site sales. This should help with oversupply and stabilize the price of marijuana in Washington.
While the regulations for delivery are quite extensive, it could be a profitable long-term investment for smaller companies.This will be extremely beneficial when competing with larger cannabis businesses. Using advanced cannabis delivery software will give smaller operations an affordable option to expand into new territory.
Washington has continually had technical issues with their seed-to-sale tracking software, Leaf Data Systems, developed by MJ Freeway that has even led to an interruption of business. This is unacceptable in the eyes of many cannabis retailers and the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board is considering abandoning the tracking system completely.
Instead marijuana dispensaries would be responsible for submitting monthly reports directly to the Liquor and Cannabis Board. Regulators would then audit businesses to ensure that they were maintaining compliance. While this seems like a step back, Washington is reluctant to invest more money in a different tracking system that could cause similar problems for retailers.