Washington State Adopts Marijuana Recall Rules

By Daniel Shortt 


On March 23, 2016, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) revised draft marijuana rules and adopted emergency rules. The LCB’s rulemaking is part of its continued effort to implement the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which requires the LCB and the Department of Health  regulate medical marijuana.

Revised Rules. The revised rules are a result of several public hearings held in the fall of 2015. An email from the LCB listed the following “highlights” of the rule revisions:

  • Revised the definition of “licensed premise” to include areas where the licensee has leasehold rights and any vehicle used to transport marijuana.
  • Removed the requirement that “Mr. Yuk” stickers be placed on all marijuana edible products.
  • Allows for retailers to accept any open marijuana product return with the original packaging.
  • Removed requirement for employee’s birthdate to be included on his or her identification badge. Employees must still carry their state issued ID to verify information on their badges.
  • Allows the LCB to seize and destroy marijuana or marijuana products exposed to unauthorized soil amendments, fertilizers, pesticides, or plant growth regulators.
  • Requires mandatory signs at the point of sale of retail licensed premises.
  • Allows the LCB to shut down the sale of marijuana without an LCB approved location, which appears to target delivery services operating without a set location.
  • Allows the LCB to deny a person’s cooperative registration if it fails to meet the LCB’s requirements or if the cooperative violates a requirement after it is registered.
  • Allows the LCB to cancel a license if the licensee fails to pay monetary penalties.
  • Removed inventory destruction as a penalty for producers and processors and converted those penalties into monetary penalties.

In order to implement the rules, the LCB will hold a public hearing on May 4, and would adopt the rules on May 18. If adopted the rules go into effect on June 18, shortly before LCB licensed retail stores begin to sell medical marijuana products on July 1.

Emergency Rules. The Board adopted emergency rules that create procedures for product recalls.An email sent by the LCB claimed, “[t]he emergency rules provide the ability to identify and remove products that have been found to pose a risk to public health in a fast and efficient manner.”

These rules appear to be a response to increased attention and concern over the use of prohibited pesticides on marijuana and marijuana products. This has been a major problem in Colorado, with the state issuing several recalls a month. The pesticide problem is becoming more prevalent in Washington, as recently reported by the Stranger.

The emergency rules create procedures for three different types of recalls:

  • Market Withdrawals. The licensee initiates these withdrawals and they are not linked to health or safety issues. The licensee withdraws the product from the market on its own accord. This could be done due to faulty packaging, for aesthetic reasons, or for some other matter deemed worthy of a recall by the licensee.
  • Required Recall. Either the licensee or the LCB initiates these recalls. These recalls involve a risk to health and public safety (e.g., use of pesticides not approved by the LCB). The licensee is responsible for recalling the product and destroying it under LCB observation.
  • BoardDirected Recalls. The board issues these recalls when the licensee does not comply with the recall or there is a substantial risk to public health and safety. In these cases, LCB Enforcement destroys the product.

The emergency rules will be codified in WAC 314-55-255. Additionally, the LCB claims that it will maintain a web page on its website of all current and closed recalls on record. For more information on the emergency rules, click here.

Expect for additional updates as the LCB continues to change its rules to accommodate the ever-changing Washington marijuana industry.

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