KUOW: Marijuana world: Maybe Attorney General Jeff Sessions won't be so bad

"[WACA Board-member and Vashon Velvet owner Susie] Gress and her fellow business owners don’t seem too worried about a federal crackdown. Partly because of the cost and resources that would be involved, and partly because voters seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Eight more states including California legalized marijuana in some form in November.

Rep. Denny Heck (D-Olympia) said support for legalization has transcended party politics in the four years he’s served in Congress."

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Seattle Channel City Inside/Out: Marijuana lounges

Vicki Christophersen, Washington CannaBusiness Executive Director, is featured in Seattle Channel's premier public affairs show discussing the association's support for giving local jurisdictions the opportunity to create regulations allowing for marijuana consumption lounges. Christophersen's interview is featured beginning at the 1:52 minute mark. 

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Marijuana Business Daily: Private Washington state fund to boost medical cannabis access

"Marijuana retailers in Washington state could see an uptick in business thanks to a proposed fund that would help foot the bill for low-income medical marijuana patients.

The idea is the brainchild of the 70-member Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), which hopes to have the fund up and running by spring 2017, according to the News Tribune. The fund is intended to expand patient access to MMJ."

Read the whole thing.

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Tacoma News-Tribune: Can’t pay for your medical marijuana? A new fund might help

"Patients facing a wide array of medical conditions can sometimes get assistance for prescription drugs from pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charities. That same support system doesn’t exist for medical marijuana. 'Hopefully we can help fill that void until the federal government changes the status of marijuana nationally,' [WACA Executive Director] Christophersen said."


"WACA also announced a new Code of Conduct on Tuesday that its members are signing on to. After WACA was formed following the passage of Initiative 502 the organization realized it needed to represent the will of the people, Christophersen said. 'The voter will was a safe, fully regulated market that keeps product out of the hands of kids, generates revenues for the state to deal with things like substance abuse and others,' she said. 'Our members feel very strongly about that responsibility and they take it very seriously.'"

Read the whole thing.


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Seattle Weekly: The State Wants More Accurate THC Ratings on Pot, But May Be Missing the Main Culprit

"Vicki Christophersen, the executive director and registered lobbyist for the Washington Cannabusiness Association, said she was happy to see the state trying to improve their regulations. 'I do know that our companies feel very strongly that it is our role as an industry to prove it,' Christophersen says. 'We are in the prove it phase: proving that we can produce a safe product, proving that we will work hard to keep it out of children. We are sort of on the point of the sword.'"

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Columbian: What's next for weed?

"More than two years since legal recreational marijuana sales started, Washington pot businesses have seen more than $1.48 billion in total sales, raising more than $350 million in excise taxes, according to the state.

But while sales have almost only increased, questions about the future of the market linger.

Beyond the industry-unique issues of regulation and the fact that marijuana is still illegal federally, it’s not yet clear when the market, which saw volatile prices and supply issues during its early days, will start to balance out in terms of supply and demand.

'We’re two years into a very fledgling industry, so to some extent, the sort of unpredictable nature of this industry is to be expected,' Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen said."

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Tacoma News-Tribune: Move over, booze: 2016 is a milestone year for sales of pot in state

"'Vicki Christophersen, a lobbyist for the marijuana industry who heads the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the increasing revenues for marijuana shops show the regulated marketplace is effectively competing against the black market.

'We wouldn’t be selling to that level if we weren’t,' Christophersen said. The price of products on store shelves now, despite the tax, 'are competitive with what we thought the black market was at one point.'"

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San Francisco Chronicle: Lessons in legalization: Washington’s slick pot industry booming

"Californians contemplating a future of legal marijuana after election day may want to gaze north, to places like this hip pot spot south of downtown Seattle, to see how radically the landscape has changed in the four years since Washington voters decriminalized recreational weed and the two years since retail sales launched. A thriving, slick-marketed cannabis economy is fronted by boutique ganja shops where green-thumbed bud tenders wander like sommeliers, pontificating on their feel-good goods."

You can read the whole story here, including insights from WACA board member Susie Gress of Vashon Velvet.


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WACA members featured in VICE's Munchies

WACA member Jody Hall of The Goodship Company and board member Susie Gress of Vashon Velvet are featured in the latest episode of VICE's Munchies. Check out this fun look into how our members are leading the way to supporting a thriving, safe and quality-controlled marijuana marketplace in Washington.


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Tacoma News-Tribune: Using marijuana just got a whole lot safer

The Tacoma News-Tribune today published a guest editorial by Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen:

"On July 1 our state took a big step forward in supporting a safe, quality-controlled and fully regulated cannabis industry by expanding the system created by voters to include the totally unmonitored medical marijuana marketplace."

Read the whole thing.

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Guest Post: Congressman Denny Heck

In a presidential election year, very little happens in Congress, so we will have to wait at least one more year for the major long-term solutions the legal marijuana industry needs and deserves. However, we are making incremental progress, and I want to update you on a couple of developments on that front.

Two years ago, we made history by succeeding in adopting two legalization amendments to House appropriations bills. I was very proud to be the lead sponsor of one of those two – the Heck amendment barred financial regulators from taking action against banks and credit unions for serving marijuana-related business. In addition, we passed a Rohrabacher amendment that barred the Department of Justice from taking action against state-regulated marijuana businesses.

This year, we have support in the Senate as well. A version of the Heck Amendment passed the Senate Appropriations Committee last week, and an amendment allowing VA doctors to write medical prescriptions has already passed both chambers. I have offered the Heck Amendment again, and I am optimistic that it will pass by an even larger margin if Speaker Ryan allows a vote. We have sign after sign that we are making steady progress.

Appropriations amendments are excellent for showing that we have support from a majority of the House and Senate, but they are a bad way to make policy. They are only effective for one year, and their reach is limited. For long-term change, we need to pass new laws, and for that we keep demonstrating how widespread support is.

I am optimistic about the result of measures on the ballot in Maine, Nevada, and California (a state with 1/8 of the country’s population), and I am encouraged by efforts by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to legalize marijuana in our neighbor to the north.

As our state demonstrates to these other states and nations, we can responsibly regulate marijuana just like we do alcohol. With more states pursuing legalization of cannabis, Congress and the federal government will have to update the law in order to avoid continued regulatory conflict. Your stories and policy recommendations will continue to be important elements of any successful effort to appropriately update the law to fit the existing demands of the legal and regulated marijuana markets. Keep up the advocacy and keep sharing how federal regulations get in the way of responsible business practices.

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Spokesman-Review: Washington flips the switch on a new medical marijuana system

“'We really don’t know how many dispensaries there were in the state, and how many were legitimate dispensaries and not just fronts,' said Vicki Christophersen of the Washington Cannabusiness Association, which represents state-licensed marijuana businesses. That was a major reason behind the push to combine the systems, she said."

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The Lens: Cities, Counties Want Fine-Tuned Rules For Legal Pot Shops And Grow Ops

"Industry Association Wants To Build Trust

Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen supports giving local jurisdictions more autonomy to set regulations. While they may not like the unnecessary restrictions on their industry that come as a result, it’s something they may have to accept for the time being until skeptics are won over, she added.

'We have to remember where society is,' she said. 'We have to be thoughtful, disciplined and slow in the development of this (industry).'"

Read the whole thing.

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The Lens: Weed-Like Growth for Washington's Cannabis Industry

The recreational pot industry in Washington State is growing fast. It’s expected to hit the one billion dollar-mark in sales for the 2016 fiscal year ending in June, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. Also in June, a merger is planned with the medical marijuana industry that is expected to add to growth. By fiscal year 2019, projections for marijuana tax revenue reach $362 million.

The long-term success of the legal leisure weed trade in Washington may depend on whether existing conflicts between state and federal law on marijuana are resolved. Another concern is taxes. Some industry experts warn Washington’s higher marijuana tax rate compared to Oregon’s might entice both customers and sellers out of state or back onto the black market.

A $1.3B Annual Market In Washington

In the past year the amount of marijuana grown and sold in Washington state has increased dramatically. Usable marijuana production increased from 4,428 pounds in April 2015 to 8,615 pounds in April 2016. Recreational marijuana was legalized by Initiative 502 in 2012. The first legal sales began on July 8, 2014.

A December 2015 report for the state estimated that the overall value of the marijuana market in Washington is around $1.3 billion annually. Of that an estimated $480 million was from medical marijuana, $460 million for state-licensed recreational stores and $390 million in illicit sales. This breaks down to 37 percent of sales in medical marijuana, 35 percent in legal recreational pot and 28 percent in black market sales.

Much of the legal recreational pot sales are to buyers formerly on the medical or black markets, said Sen. Ann Rivers (R-18)

‘Traditional Business Folks’ Getting Into The Game

But the growth also shows that new blood has entered the market, including entrepreneurs. That’s according to Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen. The trade association represents licensed and regulated cannabis businesses.

“Most of the people we have in the association and the vast majority of people that are licensed weren’t necessarily selling or producing on the black market before,” she said. “Most of the people we deal with are your traditional business folks. It’s a whole different ballgame from my perspective.”

Read the whole thing.

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A Plan for Pesticides: Protecting Consumer and Patient Safety

The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) represents the regulated cannabis industry in Washington State and is a leader in supporting policies that prioritize patient and consumer safety. As industry and public concern has increased regarding the use of pesticides in the cannabis marketplace, WACA’s Board of Directors has led membership in a conversation to develop insights and counsel from within the licensed industry to offer elected officials and regulators. The resulting recommendations directly address issues such as pesticide testing, compliance procedures, cost, and safety, among others.

WACA recognizes the challenges of establishing a safe, regulated cannabis marketplace and is fully engaged in working with other licensed businesses in the industry and elected and community leaders to ensure policies that address pesticide use prioritize safety, testing and quality-control. In a fully-regulated marketplace, it is also important to ensure that legal, licensed businesses (whether they are WACA members or not) who are in compliance with state law are not “tarred with the same brush” as unlicensed, unregulated businesses who continue to profit in the gray or black marijuana market. The current focus on pesticide use and testing is an opportunity and an obligation to propose solutions that prioritize consumer safety and are workable for the industry.

In conversations with elected officials in Olympia and policymakers for the Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), WACA has identified the main challenges that its membership faces on this issue and has offered solutions for consideration to strengthen the regulated, licensed system.


  • Lack of consistency in lab testing results and standards
  • Lack of a regulatory authorities that are motivated to properly certify labs to provide accurate pesticide analysis results
  • Zero threshold testing limits
  • Public/industry that is generally uninformed about the hazards and intricacies of pesticides and exposure from other sources such as food crops
  • WSLCB has authority to collect samples but is understaffed and imposing new, expensive testing measures would be futile

Proposed Solutions

  1. Support continued robust random testing by LCB.
  2. Create uniform regulations for labs testing product.  The Liquor and Cannabis Board and Department of Health should work with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to establish a lab certification and proficiency testing program to ensure that labs can accurately detect prohibited pesticides.  False positives and negatives should concern everyone – regulators, businesses, consumers and patients.
  3. Review how the United States Department of Agriculture manages pesticides in administering the National Organic Program. For Certified Organic products some pesticides are permitted and even for prohibited pesticides, allowances are made if detected at low enough limits due to the challenges of cross-contamination and the persistence of some substances unintentionally introduced.
  4. Support Action Levels for prohibited pesticides rather than “zero” tolerances. This provides liability protection to the system, creates a science-based system for protecting consumer safety and potentially minimizes errors that could be introduced by labs.
  5. Support a “disclosure upon request” model so that any consumer or interested party can find out which pesticides, if any, have been applied to the product in question. This disclosure could be in a variety of formats including a card provided to the consumer or a URL that the consumer can easily access in order to get the information. WACA does not support requiring inclusion of this information on already crowded product labels.
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Increase in retail licenses positive step for regulated cannabis marketplace

Following the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announcement today regarding an increase in the number of retail marijuana stores from the current cap of 334 to a new cap of 556, the Washington CannaBusiness Association released the following statement by its Executive Director, Vicki Christophersen:

“On behalf of our I-502 licensed producers, processors and retailers, we thank the Liquor and Cannabis Board for conducting an analysis regarding an appropriate new cap for the number of retail stores in Washington State to help support a quality-controlled, safe and regulated cannabis marketplace. Today’s announcement brings certainty to businesses investing in the regulated cannabis industry by increasing the amount of allowed retail licenses based on a prudent review of the current cannabis marketplace. We thank the staff and board members of the Liquor and Cannabis Board and look forward to continuing to work with them in our shared efforts to support a successful legal cannabis industry that will continue to serve as a national model."

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WACA Annual Meeting Summary

The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) held elections for its Board of Directors at its Annual Meeting on December 11, 2015. As President of WACA and one of its founders, I’d like to share the results and welcome our new board members.

When we started WACA almost two years ago, we were passionately committed to exclusively representing the interest of 502-licensed entities in the legislature and with the regulators.  Our mission has always been to represent everyone with a 502 license and the related ecosystem businesses.

In the beginning, the Board was basically made up of the first few members willing to put in the extra time to manage the organization. In our first year, our focus was achieving three major strategic legislative goals in Olympia…and we did. Now that the organization has grown and evolved, we have endeavored to put best practices in place for a world class industry trade association. For example, WACA has adopted staggered board terms, annual elections and WACA members interested in being on the Board stand before the general membership before a vote. We are committed to ensuring that the values of our organization directly reflect its membership and their priorities. In an industry that is being carefully watched by so many, we did not want to be the kind of organization where Board seats could be purchased, or were protected in any kind of gerrymandering way. This year we also increased the WACA Board from six (three retail and three producer/processor, one lab/transport) to seven and instituted annual elections putting four of the seven seats up for election this year.

As a result, a MAJORITY of WACA’s Board seats were up for election going into 2016. We believe that creating a balance between retailers and producer/processors as well as having a tie-breaker seat representing the rest of the 502 ecosystem was the right thing to do. There are additional ways WACA members - and potential members - could be represented but rather than silo our leadership structure too much (e.g. regional representation, outdoor/indoor, small/large, edibles), we have recommitted to continuing to ask for input from our membership, to inviting leadership within our various work groups and to continue to be strong advocates for a safe, quality controlled marketplace for Washington. We depend on a diverse membership to elect a diverse Board and subject ourselves to be accountable to the membership every two years.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to our 2014/2015 Founding WACA Board:

Peter Saladino, BMF WA
Mike Griffith, Green Theory
Greg James, Marijuana Venture Magazine (and applicant for Tier 3)
Ian Eisenberg, Uncle Ikes
Brad Douglas, The Wercshop
Martin Tobias, Patriot Meds

For the 2016/17 Board Term, Greg James resigned (as he is no longer a 502 applicant), and Brad and Peter ran for re-election for their seats. One new Retailer seat was up for election.  For the two Producer/Processor seats that were up for election, every member could vote for two and the top two would get the two seats. I am glad to say that we had a field of 10 candidates for the four open seats with a great variety and passion among the candidates.

I am pleased and proud to announce the winners of the election and the 2016/2017 WACA Board:

Susan Gress, Vashon Velvet (tier 1 producer)
Jerry Derevyanny, Northwest Cannabis Solutions (edibles/oils)
Rob Hendrix, Cannabis Central of Ellensburg (Eastern WA Retail)
Brad Douglas, The Wercshop
Mike Griffith, Green Theory (up for election 2016)
Ian Eisenberg, Uncle Ikes (up for election 2016)
Martin Tobias, Patriot Meds (up for election 2016)

WACA’s Board has diversified with the addition of a Tier 1 producer/processor, an eastern Washington midsize retailer, and an edibles/oil processor. I am really looking forward to having these new and unique perspectives represented on our Board. I encourage you to all reach out to new board members and welcome them! Remember the Board is here to represent all 502 operators and all factions of the 502 ecosystem. Please get involved and feel free to contact any Board member directly with any issue or concern.

We are still in the early stages of expanding the perception of what it means to be a professional in the cannabis business. But with the continued growth of our membership, through tireless dedication to proving our commitment to safety, and by being responsible and accountable members of the communities where we operate, WACA will continue to be the strongest representation of licensed businesses across Washington and we look forward to continued success in the New Year.

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New exclusive healthcare benefit for WACA members

We are excited to announce that Washington CannaBusiness Association has endorsed Washington Farm Bureau Healthcare. We are a member-driven organization working hard to represent you in supporting a safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace in our state. Today’s announcement is a great step forward in our organization providing a new tool to help support your business success in our industry as we join our established peers in our state’s economy.

This means that WACA employer members who are I-502 licensed producers, processors, retailers and transporters will have access to the Washington Farm Bureau (WFB) Health Care Trust, an established health plan program in Washington State available exclusively to members of the Farm Bureau. WFB Healthcare’s recent partnership with Premera Blue Cross includes a rating system designed to ensure its plans are priced as competitively as possible.

Washington Farm Bureau Healthcare is the leading association health plan specifically designed for agricultural and related industry type groups, such as the cannabusiness industry. Key features include:

  • 37 Medical plans using two provider networks offered by Premera Blue Cross.
  • 4 Dental plans, and 2 Voluntary dental plans offered by Delta Dental of Washington.
  • 4 Vision plans offered by VSP.
  • 5 Life/AD&D plans offered by LifeMap Assurance Company.
  • Consolidated billing and free COBRA administration from Benefit Solutions, Inc.
  • All medical plans feature access to Teladoc® – 24/7 phone or video consultations with board- certified doctors.

Please contact WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen to learn more about how to take advantage of this new WACA member benefit.

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Statement from Executive Director on supporting a safe, regulated marketplace

Today the Washington CannaBusiness Association, the only trade association in Washington State comprised solely of regulated cannabis businesses, released the following statement from Executive Director Vicki Christophersen: 

“We support a safe, regulated and quality-controlled cannabis marketplace in Washington. A fully-regulated market encourages enforcement of state laws meant to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors, but shouldn’t work to expand a minor’s foolish decision into a five-year felony prison sentence.  

As a supporter of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act during the 2015 Legislative Session in Olympia, we hold public safety as our highest priority and keeping marijuana out of the hands of kids is a critical tenet of a fully-regulated marketplace. But in 2012 one reason Initiative 502 elicited voter support was because it laid the foundation for a new way to address the cannabis industry statewide. In 2015, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (5052) provided greater clarity and tighter controls to ensure patient and community safety and well-being. Felony incarceration of minors is not and never was the intent.

Recent media attention highlighted a situation where a minor reportedly in possession of marijuana was being threatened with a felony charge. We have been working to identify the cause of what we see as misinterpretation of the law’s intent. In discussions with the Liquor and Cannabis Board and Senator Rivers, we have asked for swift resolution of the situation which caused this legal uncertainty and a thoughtful and reasoned approach to help make sure this doesn’t happen again. We support Senator Rivers’ action today in requesting that the Attorney General provide direction on the bill’s language and, if a fix is needed to ensure that the law is enforced as originally intended, we ask that the Legislature revise state law accordingly.” 

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Licensed cannabis industry applauds Seattle enforcement legislation

Today the Washington CannaBusiness Association, the industry organization in Washington solely representing regulated I-502 license holders, thanked Seattle leaders for sending a strong message that they intend to crackdown on illegal marijuana operations (including delivery services) and creating a pathway for the merging of all cannabis businesses – both for recreational users and legitimate patients – into a single regulated cannabis marketplace.

“We applaud the hard work of Councilmember Nick Licata and his Council colleagues, and Mayor Ed Murray, to ensure that Seattle is enforcing laws that support a single, quality-controlled and safe marketplace for cannabis.” said WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen. “We also want to recognize the leadership that King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and King County Sheriff John Urquhart displayed last week when they moved forward with enforcing the closure of 15 illegal marijuana retailers in unincorporated King County.”

“As a retailer based in Seattle, I believe it is important for the city to take a leadership role in enforcing state law,” said Ian Eisenberg, owner of Uncle Ike's, Seattle's second oldest 502 retail store. “State voters three years ago passed I-502 to create a safe, legal and regulated marketplace for cannabis so that we can start to fix the failed drug policies that didn’t make our communities any safer and wasted public resources. Strong local enforcement in cities and counties like Seattle and King County will be absolutely critical to ensuring that a regulated marketplace for cannabis can work.”

Washington CannaBusiness Association earlier this month celebrated the achievement of all three of their top legislative priorities during the 2015 session in Olympia:

  • The successful passage of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, creating a safe, regulated and quality-controlled marketplace for the entire cannabis industry
  • The successful passage of 2HB 2136, creating a streamlined taxing structure to eliminate unintended consequences of I-502 such as double taxation
  • The successful adoption of new regulations to allow third-party safe transport of cannabis products and associated revenue
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