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Cannabis industry concerned over new tax break for WA medical marijuana patients - June 13, 2024
"Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for CannaBusiness, tells The Center Square they are also concerned the new law creates a financial incentive for people to seek medical cannabis cards who may not truly qualify. 'Before, if you’re a registered person, you got waived the sales tax of about 10% on average, but you can now avoid the 37% excise tax, so about a 50% reduction in cost,' said Pickus. 'There’s a pretty significant financial incentive for this to be taken advantage of.' Pickus said they’re already hearing radio ads that concern them. There’s a lot of talk about the fact that despite the strict rules on working with your main provider and meeting in person, we’re already hearing radio ads from operations that are advertising virtual provider meetings to get your medical card for just a couple hundred bucks,' said Pickus. 'Obviously that flies in the face of it being an in-person consultation, and it’s just really unclear how any of this is going to be enforced.'" - The Center Square

WA medical cannabis users get break from the nation’s highest pot taxes - June 10, 2024
The Washington CannaBusiness Association, a trade association, has expressed concern that the law is going into effect with little formal guidance for legal businesses. The lack of official rules from the state 'has created a precarious position for the regulated marketplace,' said Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the association. You must be 21 or older to purchase cannabis from a licensed retail shop, but you only need to be 18 to get a medical card. (Patients under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian designated as a provider). 'Our goal is that the integrity of the law is protected, so that this new significant financial incentive isn’t used as a way to turn back the clock with medical cards available for everyone — including those under 21 — and allow for a new toehold for the illicit marketplace,' Pickus said." - Seattle Times

WACA Statement on Amendment Prohibiting Intoxicating Hemp Products Passing U.S. House Agriculture Committee - May 23, 2024
“It is unacceptable that impairing hemp-derived THC is widely available both online and in convenience stores across Washington. Unlike products of the regulated cannabis marketplace established by voters, hemp-derived THC concoctions are not lab tested for safety standards, nor subject to labeling requirements, nor taxed by the state. It is appalling they are sold in stores and online with no guards against youth access. We applaud the U.S. House Agriculture Committee for amending the proposed Farm Bill to explicitly prohibit hemp-derived THC products and urge Congress to adopt this public safety measure into law. In Washington State, the Legislature has already banned unregulated hemp-derived THC products since adopting SB 5367 last year and we call on the Liquor and Cannabis Board to complete rulemaking – which has been open for nearly 12 months – so that effective enforcement by the agency may begin.”

How reclassifying marijuana could impact Washington state - May 21, 2024
"[WACA spokesperson] Pickus told Axios via email that the proposed rescheduling is a milestone 'that is short of legalization but brings legal businesses and workers across our country closer to a world where they are held to the same expectations as any other legal industry.'" - Axios Seattle

What rescheduling marijuana means for Washington state’s cannabis industry - May 1, 2024
"Aaron Pickus, media relations head at the Washington CannaBusiness Association, an organization representing Washington’s licensed and regulated cannabis and hemp business, applauded the federal government’s expected change in marijuana classification. 'This is an important incremental step that will one day improve the lives of patients and better support economic opportunity for those working and investing in Washington’s safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace,' he said in an email to The Center Square." - The Center Square

WACA Statement on News Regarding Department of Justice Recommendation to Reschedule Cannabis - April 30, 2024
“This is an important incremental step that will one day improve the lives of patients and better support economic opportunity for those working and investing in Washington’s safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace. This decision also begins the process to resolve the issue of 280e, a longstanding challenge for legal businesses who were blocked from making normal tax deductions on their federal returns. We call on lawmakers to advance additional opportunities to support a safe, viable legal marketplace that keeps products out of the hands of kids by adopting the SAFER Banking Act, removing Washington’s ban on access to capital for local businesses and further aligning the regulations governing the legal cannabis industry with the same expectations that workers and business owners in any other legal industry are afforded.”

With 4/20 celebrations comes growing cry for Washington to stand up to pot shop burglaries - April 20, 2024
"Pot shops are targeted because they have more cash on hand than other kinds of stores. They want to see congress adopt the SAFER Banking Act, which would expand access to traditional banking and allow them to use cards. Senator Maria Cantwell signed on to the act, but there hasn’t been any progress made on the bill since a hearing back in December." - Q13 Fox

The majority of marijuana waste in Washington ends up in the landfill. New legislation aims to redirect it - March 3, 2024
Priority legislation proposed by the Washington CannaBusiness Association

"Washington cannabis growers could soon generate new revenue and help reduce greenhouse gases by selling plant waste with a bill that passed the House on Thursday." - Spokesman 

Washington lawmakers make another run at legalizing homegrown marijuana - January 30, 2024
"Washington CannaBusiness Association, which represents licensed and regulated cannabis businesses, is officially neutral on the proposal. Its members are tuned in to legislation aimed at ensuring a safe, quality-controlled market that keeps products out of the hands of kids, a spokesman said." - Washington State Standard

Washington state lawmakers want to curb pot shop robberies - January 30, 2024
"Brooke Davies, deputy director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, told lawmakers on Monday that pot shops have more cash on site than other types of businesses, mainly because of banking restrictions tied to cannabis being federally illegal." - Axios

Puget Sound Now - January 28, 2024
Bill Schwartz, host of KOMO Radio's public affairs program Puget Sound Now, spoke with the Washington CannaBusiness Association regarding priority bills under consideration in the 2024 Legislature to pursue a safe, quality-controlled and taxed cannabis marketplace that keeps products out of the hands of minors. Legislation discussed includes allowing access to capital, facilitating low-THC products, lab accreditation, local control of retail sign dimensions and the on-going advocacy in the U.S. Congress to normalize banking for the legal cannabis industry.

An audio recording (.MP3) of the program as it aired on KOMO may be found HERE.

It's time to embrace sensible cannabis regulations - December 19, 2023
Guest Column by Andy Brassington, WACA Board Member

"In place of the hysteria around this single plant, it’s time to embrace a sensible policy that prioritizes public safety, innovation and taxation that mirrors sibling sectors such as wine, beer and spirits, to maximize the contributions of cannabis to our economy and society." - Puget Sound Business Journal

How It Started: Wearing Many Hats with Becca Burghardi, Director of Products at 4Front Ventures - December 18, 2023
A BudsFeed profile of WACA Board President, Becca Burghardi

"[Take] that initiative and [be] able to learn about all these processes [...] so that now, as the Director of Products, I have a thorough understanding of every department that every product touches. The depth and breadth of that knowledge can be hard to find in our industry, so if you have the opportunity to diversify your skills and elevate your team, jump in with both feet. We are always innovating and I'm always learning, but it was those first steps of taking initiative and just going for it that brought me to where I am today." - BudsFeed

It was known for chili. Now it smells like weed. Why cannabis boomed in Nalley Valley - September 18, 2023

"'I think it speaks to what’s happening in the world, and what’s happening in Tacoma,'” [Joseph DuPuis, Doc & Yeti co-owner and WACA board member] continued. 'The old days of our lumber industry and our manufacturing power — those jobs are gone overseas, and those companies are no longer doing it locally — so in the absence of industry, the creation of the new cannabis industry was just a natural evolution, breathing new life into these aging, industrial zones.'” - Tacoma News-Tribune

'Social equity' cannabis licenses aim to repair drug law harms to BIPOC communities - April 21, 2023
"But [Society Equity Task Force member and owner of the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company Raft] Hollingsworth said it’s clear these new licensees will be competing for business in a very tough market. 'It’s hard for everybody, not just people of color right now,' he said. 'You have a real surplus of marijuana, prices are down, but the product number is still going up.' That was the biggest concern of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, which testified as 'other' on the bill. 'The more flower on the market, the further prices have gone down,' said Vicki Christophersen, the group’s executive director. 'We’ve seen the lowest prices for flower since legalization because we have so much of it.' Christophersen said that’s why the bill grants 100 licenses each for retailers and processors, but just 10 for new growers. Her group was also concerned that the new retailers could all potentially locate in the same place, further flooding that market — but she said state regulators will address that during rulemaking." - KUOW

Too much weed among challenges in Washington state's legal cannabis industry - April 20, 2023
“'Our state has some adjusting going on but it does that about every two to three years anyway,' said Shannon Vetto, [WACA board member and] the CEO of Evergreen Market which is a cannabis retailer. 'We are starting to become a little bit down on demand but we're seeing that following an unusual peak during the COVID time frame.' [WACA board member] Joseph DuPuis is the co-founder and CEO of Doc & Yeti, a licensed grower/processor business in Tumwater and was also a panelist at the chamber luncheon. 'It's really taking a sophisticated operator to find the successes in a very challenging market,' DuPuis said. 'The price compression that you are seeing out there would suggest there's still a glut of product.' 'I have heard anecdotally that there have been literally dozens and dozens of licensed growers in the state of Washington that shut down in the last two to three years,' said [WACA board member] Andy Brassington, a [cannabis] manufacturer with Evergreen Herbal which makes various cannabis-infused edibles and drinks. 'What's happening is normal. It's painful. It's awkward for people who put their friends' and family's money in place, but it's the natural forces of economics.'" - KOMO 4 News

The [cannabis] industry has too much pot. Could interstate trade help? - April 19, 2023
"Indoor grower Doc & Yeti Urban Farms, in Tumwater, Washington, produces about 1,200 pounds (544 kilograms) of flower every year, which it sells to regular retail-store customers, said co-founder [and WACA board member] Joseph DuPuis. Brand loyalty has helped his team of 13 survive and profit, but he’d like to see Washington better prepare itself for a national market. 'If you can withstand the storm, you have a chance to come out to calmer seas and survive in this market,' DuPuis said." - Associated Press

The Associated Press produced a video, also featuring Doc & Yeti's co-founder Joseph Dupuis, as part of their reporting for this story.

State’s decade of retail cannabis a work in progress - April 12, 2023
Guest Op-Ed by WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen

"Washingtonians went first in ending a prohibition that created significant harm and failed to protect public safety and health. For some, the past ten years have been long enough to forget the failure and stigma of anti-cannabis policies. For others, it has been an opportunity to learn more about how a safe, quality-controlled and taxed marketplace is a better approach for cannabis where our margin to lead exists but grows smaller every day." - Everett Herald

Cannabis store signs [could] come under local control - April 8, 2023

"Vicki Christophersen, Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director, said the bill does nothing to change the LCB’s authority to regulate the content of the signs, whether it be a billboard or a sign on the store. What the bill does is make regulation of the sign’s size and the number of signs subject to local laws, she said. 'Everything else regarding content, information that could be appealing to children, all of those things remain in place,' she said. 'This allows retail stores to have their store signs regulated based on how signs are regulated for other retail establishments in their community.'" - WNPA News Service 

Cannabis sales in Clark County dip slightly in 2022 - April 4, 2023

“'Even though we’re a much, much, much smaller economy than in California, we have the second most tax revenues from cannabis in a legal state just because of how high the tax rate is,' [WACA Spokesperson Aaron Pickus] said. 'For a wide spectrum of reasons, what we’re hearing from our members — retailers, producers and processors — are that economic times are pretty tough,' Pickus said." - The Columbian

How federal weed legalization would impact Washington state - March 3, 2023

"At a Jan. 10 hearing before the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, Vicki Christophersen of the Washington CannaBusiness Association said Oregon and California have already passed similar laws. 'What we don’t want is other states to get a head start,' she said." - Crosscut

Armed robberies at WA pot shops hit decade high - December 26, 2022

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director of Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the industry is part of a larger trend in increased robberies. 'The difference for us though is because of the presence of so much cash, and in some cases because of the type of product we’re selling, it’s very attractive to folks,' she said." - Seattle Times

New Washington Bill Would Allow Interstate [Cannabis] Commerce - December 23, 2022

"Washington state currently prohibits out-of-state investment in marijuana businesses. Industry advocates at the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) would like to see changed. '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,' the group’s director said in a webinar last month, according to MJBizDaily. '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.'” - Marijuana Moment

WA pot sales decline for first time in the decade since legalization - December 19, 2022

"Combined with the state’s high sales tax, Washingtonians pay an average tax rate of 46.2% on pot products (if you also count the local taxes). 'On the margins, this high rate may be pushing some consumers to purchase their cannabis products from the unregulated, untaxed, illicit market,' says the Washington CannaBusiness Association. The organization fears this high taxation and other state restrictions around out-of-state funding and interstate commerce are dulling Washington’s edge nationally in a burgeoning pot industry." - The Seattle Times

Too much weed, not enough money. Here are the cannabis industry’s goals for 2023 session - December 18, 2022

"We’re looking at this through the lens of where have we been for the last 10 years and where do we need to go to make sure that our businesses, the pioneers that got into this business in the first place, are those that succeed going forward,” [Vicki] Christophersen [executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association] said." - Tacoma News-Tribune

Taking stock of WA state’s decade of legal cannabis, and what to expect next - December 16, 2022

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association rejects calls for any kinds of prohibitions on high-potency products. They say that will have unintended consequences, and fuel a black market. But they are discussing how to discourage some of the consumption of high-potency products with higher taxes. 'Most interesting, and not fully formed yet, but a lot of folks have talked about is potentially differential tax rates for higher potency products versus lower potency, and that’s a conversation that we’re starting to have with legislators,' explained Vicki Christophersen, who heads the Washington CannaBusiness Association." - KUOW

Washington state [cannabis] trade group outlines policy priorities for 2023 - December 13, 2022

"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." - MJBizDaily

Legal weed in WA turns 10 this week; what challenges lie ahead? - December 4, 2022

"[A] spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said [...] the concern is access to capital, and for that reason CannaBusiness is enthusiastic about the potential passage of federal legislation that would allow state-licensed cannabis businesses access to banks. That financing avenue has been cut off because the drug remains illegal under federal law. 'It’s been the top priority at the federal level for years,' he said.

Pickus also pointed to a case before a federal judge in Western Washington that could overturn the requirement that someone who has at least partial ownership of a Washington cannabis business live in the state for at least six months. Proponents say removing that requirement would allow further investment in Washington’s companies, money they could use to compete on a national scale if federal legalization occurs." - Spokesman-Review

Help a fledgling industry: Banking for cannabis businesses - December 2, 2022
Seattle Times Editorial Board

"Congress procrastinated on critical legislation for much of the year. Now only a few weeks remain until a new, divided Congress likely brings partisan gridlock. Washington’s delegation should prioritize three items before it’s too late: allow the cannabis industry to use banks, [...] this is not just sound policy but also a chance to end the year on a bipartisan high note." - Seattle Times

How the Senate Can Prevent (Some) Violent Crime - November 28, 2022

"A spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, says pot shop owners have done all they can to mitigate the risk of having lots of cash on hand without Congress stepping in to fix the core issue. In an interview, Pickus said [retail license-holders] have done everything from hiring armed security to adjusting the frequency of when and how often they transport cash to local credit unions that handle their day-to-day banking, but the strategies haven't made the industry less of a target." - The Stranger 

Editorial: Reduce cannabis business as target for crime - November 22, 2022
Everett Herald Editorial Board

"While there remains a knot of issues for the state to consider on safe oversight and control of cannabis, the federal government should relax rules that have left the industry and the communities where it does business in an unsafe situation that has created a lucrative target for violent criminals desperate for cash." - Everett Herald

Washington’s Cannaversary: Cannabis industry matures as 10-year anniversary of legalization nears - October 20, 2022

"Washington has the highest cannabis excise tax rate among legal states, at 37%. Spencer Cohen, the author of the study commissioned by the Washington Cannabusiness Association, says that when state and local taxes are added to the excise tax, Washington consumers pay an average tax rate of 46.2%." - Spokane Journal of Business

Green growth: Cannabis celebrates 10 legal years - October 1, 2022

"In 2012, Washington voters approved ballot Initiative 502, which allowed for the legal production, sale and consumption of recreational cannabis. In the 10 years since its passing, the cannabis industry has created a robust industry that has contributed millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state and thousands of jobs. 'As we were approaching the 10 year anniversary of I-502’s passing, we wanted to be able to wrap our arms around the actual quantitative scope on the market,' said Washington CannaBusiness Association spokesperson Aaron Pickus." - Columbian Basin Herald

Special interests cloud Seattle City Council’s quest for pot reform - September 1, 2022
Seattle Times Editorial Board

"The City Council could prove that it’s better than a weather vane blown by special interests. The council should support a neutral, academic organization to take a look at the hard realities of Seattle’s cannabis industry. Anything else would be blowing smoke." - Seattle Times

Work with, not against, Seattle’s pot industry to craft new policies - August 24, 2022
Seattle Times Guest Op-Ed by Vicki Christophersen, WACA Executive Director

"Better collaboration is critical. Discussions regarding a new slew of cannabis regulations in Seattle began a few months ago, when a Seattle City Council committee took up ideas featuring a new tax on cannabis at the point of sale that would have raised taxes about 10% on legal products, among other hiring and personnel requirements. If adopted, this would set cannabis taxes in Seattle — already the highest in the nation — at almost 60%. Those proposals were unfettered with industry input but nudged forward by a single union. In recent weeks, these proposals have improved due to Mayor Bruce Harrell’s invitation for industry input. For now, a new tax is off the table, but we have no choice but to remain vigilant as new regulations, and the future potential for a new tax, only further reduces the legal industry’s ability to compete with the ongoing illicit marketplace." - Seattle Times

State tries to deal with psychoactive substances made from hemp - May 19, 2022

"'Our top priority is public safety and no intoxicating product should be available in the unregulated marketplace where kids can access them,' said Washington CannaBusiness Association spokesperson Aaron Pickus." - KIRO 7 

Council approves Cannabis Safety Taskforce in King County to prevent pot shop robberies - May 17, 2022

"The new measure also will improve tracking and communication between different law enforcement jurisdictions. The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) says it supports the creation of this new task force. The owner of Green Theory in Bellevue’s Factoria neighborhood says the new measure may be able to help with current security challenges." - KIRO 7

King County’s Cannabis Safety Taskforce closer to reality - May 5, 2022

“'We applaud today’s vote in our shared work with the King County Council to protect the safety of legal cannabis workers and the communities where regulated cannabis businesses operate,'” said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. “'Our members will continue to partner with King County officials as part of this coordinated response for addressing the recent spike in armed robberies targeting licensed cannabis businesses.'” - KIRO 7

Inslee and Ferguson: SAFE Banking Act is a matter of life and death for WA pot businesses - April 19, 2022
Op-Ed by Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson

"We urge leaders of the Senate to act immediately and send the SAFE Banking Act to President Biden for his signature. We’ve been asking for access to banking services since 2013. We’re witnessing the horrific and tragic consequences of Congress’s failure to act. Pass the SAFE Banking Act. Now." - Tacoma News Tribune

Businesses, local officials seek help addressing rampant pot shop robbers in Washington state - March 29, 2022

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), a group of cannabis industry advocates, also points to the fact cannabis businesses are forced to be cash-only establishments as a reason they are targeted by criminals. The WACA said Tuesday it was calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow federally regulated banks to serve legal marijuana businesses the same as other legal retail businesses. 'The legal cannabis industry is grappling with many critical conversations regarding social equity and inclusion in the regulated marketplace, conversations that our members broadly welcome. These efforts should not stand in the way of immediate worker safety. It is long past time for the United States Senate to pass SAFE Banking,' WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen said in a statement. She singled out senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, calling on them to lift their opposition to the bill and put it to a vote in the U.S. Senate. According to the WACA, the cannabis industry employs more than 11,000 workers and supports more than 18,000 jobs. In 2020, marijuana businesses generated $660.8 million in state and local tax revenue for Washington state." - KING 5

How to stop pot-shop robberies: Allow stores access to banking - March 24, 2022
Seattle Times Guest Op-Ed by Washington State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti

"Being a cash-based industry is more than an antiquated logistical problem in a world of digital commerce; it creates a 21st century Wild West in which armed hold ups and storefront heists are a daily industry reality. Violent crime in the cannabis sector has risen more than 675% in the first few months of 2022, compared to all of 2017, according to Uncle Ike’s i502 Robbery Tracker. Recent reported robberies in Bellevue, Covington and Tacoma, which turned deadly, have brought this issue to the forefront. These robberies are horrific; they are also not unique to Washington and are preventable. The common-sense solution is for Congress finally to legalize cannabis banking and get the industry away from cash. This change will reduce the incentive for quick cash heists, resulting in greater public safety by allowing cannabis retailers to operate like all other small businesses." - Seattle Times

High from hemp: States wrestle with chemically made THC - March 24, 2022

"Further, processors can make a more consistent product using chemistry to make THC from CBD, they say, and regulators shouldn’t stand in the way of market innovations or pick winners and losers in the industry. They liken it to the synthetically created vanilla or caffeine added to food and drinks."


"Vicki Christophersen, a lobbyist for the industry group Washington CannaBusiness Association, argues that the board’s approach is stifling innovation in ways that will make it tough for Washington to compete nationally, should the federal ban on marijuana ever be lifted. 'The collaborations that occur between the hemp industry and the adult-use cannabis industry are not only inevitable, but they’re important,' she said. 'We need to look at what is going to advance Washington’s industry alongside all the other competitor states that are advancing at a much higher speed than we are.'” - Associated Press

WA pot shops robberies have turned deadly. It will keep happening until Congress acts - March 23, 2022

"Almost a decade after Washington voters legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana — creating a regulated market that now brings in more than a billion dollars in sales and roughly a half billion in tax revenue — it’s enough to make you wonder how much lawmakers care about the thousands of residents now employed in the industry. According to [Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki] Christophersen, what’s at stake, particularly when it comes to banking, is the 'safety of our employees, our business owners, the communities around them and our customers.'" - Tacoma News-Tribune

Deadly pot-shop robberies are a byproduct of federal inaction - March 22, 2022
Seattle Times Editorial Board

"A bill that would change that, the SAFE Banking Act, has passed the U.S. House six times with increasing bipartisan support but continues to stall in the Senate. The latest opposition comes from New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker, who vowed to block banking legislation to pass a wider marijuana legalization effort. That proposal — also supported by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — would expunge prior convictions, fund equity programs and give the Food and Drug Administration regulating authority. Booker’s efforts are well intentioned but shortsighted. Such congressional dithering contributes to crime in our state." - Seattle Times

New rules make marijuana safer for Washington adults - March 8, 2022
Guest Joint Op-Ed in Spokane Spokesman by Paige Berger of Hygge Farms (Tier 1) and Vicki Christophersen, executive director of WACA

"On March 2, Washington’s legal cannabis products started to get a lot safer for adult users and patients. After nearly four years of process, we applaud the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board for cutting through the noise and mandating testing for pesticides in cannabis products. As with most every facet of the cannabis industry – which is being built from scratch before our eyes – more work remains to align our state’s product safety standards with our peers in other legal cannabis markets. But we believe there is promise in this momentum and are hopeful for increased focus on both safety and science in Washington state cannabis policymaking." - Spokane Spokesman

Washington cannabis regulators make last-ditch effort to set rules for hemp-derived products - March 4, 2022

"The CannaBusiness Association continues to oppose the bill because it prohibits cannabis products that are derived from the same plant family as those already available in stores, said Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the trade group. They have instead backed legislation that bans hemp-derived products from the shelves of unregulated stores, but establishes a 'scientific panel' based at Washington State University’s Center for Cannabis Policy, Research and Outreach to evaluate the safety of such products for potential inclusion in the regulated market. A report would be due by the end of this year. Pickus said the association shared the desire of the Liquor and Cannabis Board and state lawmakers to get hemp-derived products off the shelves in other stores, where they could potentially be sold to minors without any safety testing." - Spokane Spokesman

Modernize the Liquor and Cannabis Board - March 1, 2022
Seattle Times Editorial Board

"Much has changed in the 10 years since Washington voters approved Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana. More than a dozen states have followed suit, and while for some the rosiest tax revenue projections failed to materialize, none have seen the dire consequences opponents envisioned. What hasn’t changed, even as the marketplace continues to evolve and mature, is the state’s enforcement arm, the Liquor and Cannabis Board. In 2019, the Legislature effectively worked to move the LCB away from a culture of punitive enforcement to that of a business regulatory agency, while keeping a strong focus on public safety. Lawmakers should stay the course and continue modernizing the board to improve compliance from cannabis licensees and better prepare the state for what the next decade may bring." - Seattle Times

Editorial: Legislature, Congress must update cannabis rules - March 1, 2022
Everett Herald Editorial Board

"Companion bills, House Bill 2123 and Senate Bill 5981, seek to bar the sales of these new products containing THC. Each would also fund a grant program to aid in enforcement at the county level and convene a panel of scientists to consider recommendations on the new products and whether they could be offered in the state’s regulated retail stores. Another, Senate Bill 5927, in response to a rash of robberies at retail marijuana businesses in the state, would stiffen sentences for those found guilty of first- or second-degree robbery involving a marijuana business, adding 12 months to existing sentences. And Senate Bill 5671 would have sought to modernize the state Liquor and Cannabis Board by adding two additional voting members and four former state lawmakers who would be nonvoting members to the current three-member board. That bill failed to advance, but there is support among lawmakers to convene a panel for further discussion regarding the LCB and ways to improve its responsiveness." - Everett Herald

Washington lawmakers urge halt to hemp-derived THC in state - February 25, 2022

"THC is marijuana’s most prominent high-inducing component. While marijuana and hemp are the same plant — cannabis — federal law makes a distinction between marijuana, which is grown for high-THC content, and hemp, defined by its low content and traditionally used for food, clothing and industrial applications.Because marijuana is defined by its content of delta-9 THC, the most common type, proponents of the synthetic cannabis have argued that it’s OK to use CBD extracted from hemp to make other types of THC, such as delta-8 — a molecule that occurs naturally but in minimal amounts in cannabis, is closely related to delta-9, and also produces a high. At least 17 states have banned synthetic cannabinoids in the past year, and even hemp industry groups have called on Congress to clarify the law. In Washington, the fight has pitted the Liquor and Cannabis Board against the Washington CannaBusiness Association, an industry group that represents a small but politically muscled segment of the licensed cannabis industry. Both sides want to stop the sale of intoxicating delta-8 or other synthetic cannabinoids at gas stations, convenience stores and vape shops. But there is strong disagreement about whether synthetically derived THC belongs in the regulated adult-use or medical marijuana system. The industry group is also concerned the LCB-supported legislation would give the agency authority over “impairing” cannabinoids without adequately defining what is meant by that — creating uncertainty for regulated businesses." - Associated Press

Access to Capital, SAFE Banking and Robberies Spike - February 20, 2022

On Puget Sound Now, Bill Swartz discusses the recent spike in robberies targeting cannabis businesses, access to capital and the SAFE Banking Act to normalize banking practices in the cannabis industry. WACA spokesperson Aaron Pickus joins him for the conversation. Puget Sound Now airs Sunday mornings on 1000 AM/97.7 FM, KVI and STAR 101.5 FM. The audio of the conversation may be streamed here.

Pot Effectively Legal Under Federal Law, Orgs. Tell Court - February 18, 2022

The Washington CannaBusiness Association, together with the Craft Cannabis Coalition, filed an amicus brief in the United States District Court Western District of Washington in support of the plaintiff in Todd Brinkmeyer v. Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The plaintiff is challenging Washington State’s residency requirement for cannabis businesses, which blocks the same access to capital that all other legal businesses may participate in. Washington and Alaska are alone among legal cannabis states in blocking access to capital for legal cannabis businesses. The amicus brief argues that Washington should not be allowed to violate the federal constitutional rights of citizens in its licensing of cannabis businesses or regulation of the cannabis industry. Copies of the amicus brief are available upon request. Law360 coverage.

Washington cannabis retailers pushing for law that would protect them from robberies - February 18, 2022

"Brooke Davies spoke on behalf of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. She said her organization keeps a spreadsheet of robberies at cannabis businesses throughout Washington and noticed a rise in recent months." - KXLY

$6,000 stolen in 2 minutes: cannabis industry sounds alarm after string of thefts - February 16, 2022

"Bills are currently going through legislation to turn the prohibition around and allow cannabis shops to collect payments in safer ways. [Washington CAnnaBusiness Spokesperson] Pickus also mentioned a few efforts in Olympia that would increase penalties for targeting a cannabis store to as much as targeting a pharmacy." - Tacoma News-Tribune

Rash of robberies has Washington state’s cash-only cannabis industry on edge - February 16, 2022

“'Worker safety is front of mind right now,' said Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association. That’s why federal banking reform for cannabis companies is so important, he added. 'This is a public-safety concern,' Pickus said." - Marijuana Business Daily

NIPPED IN THE BUD: Washington's highly regulated cannabis industry might be at a competitive disadvantage if federal lawmakers legalize recreational marijuana. - February 13, 2022

"Differences in laws and regulations make it difficult for Washington cannabis companies to expand into other states. In cases when they do, [Dr. Spencer] Cohen [of High Peak Strategy] said it could be a benefit by allowing Washington brands to gain more widespread recognition. But [Washington CannaBusiness Association spokesperson] Pickus said it’s also disheartening because, given the opportunity, many of the companies would rather continue to grow and invest in Washington. 'That’s not good for our state, and that’s not good for businesses that are located here. ... We have a workforce that has been established longer than any other legal cannabis workforce in the country, and that’s something that we would like to keep,' Pickus said. 'We don’t want to see that knowledge base and know-how exported to other legal states and other businesses that would be competing with ours.'" - Puget Sound Business Journal

Possible links examined in cannabis robberies - February 8, 2022

"Pot store owners in Washington state can only conduct cash transactions, putting them at a disadvantage compared with other retailers when they sell their product, which cannot be purchased with a credit card, [a WACA spokesperson] said. 'Cash is one of the unique things on site relative to other retail businesses, whether it’s in a till or a safe,' [they] said." - Peninsula Daily News

In Our View: Congress key to getting cash out of cannabis - February 2, 2022

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association reports there have been roughly 30 robberies since mid-December. Over the past two years, numerous Clark County cannabis dispensaries also have been targeted. [Sgt. Tim] Meyer [of the King County Sheriff's Office] said: 'Certainly word is on the street that these [cannabis retailers] hold a fair bit of cash, and in some cases folks are willing to risk their freedom to get it. . . . We’ve got to get the cash out of the business.' Getting cash out of the business will depend partly on Congress — specifically the Senate. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, SAFE, passed the House of Representatives in 2019 but did not advance in the other chamber. It passed the House again last year but is stuck in a Senate committee. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has voted in favor of the bill in each session." - The Columbian

Robbery spike at WA pot shops has owners on ‘high alert.’ Reliance on cash the problem - January 29, 2022

"...[the] spokesperson for the [Washington] CannaBusiness Association, said there are several steps that could be taken to help keep Washington pot retailers and their employees safe while reducing the likelihood that they’ll be the victim of an armed robbery. At the state capitol in Olympia, Pickus said, the association is supporting legislation that would increase the penalty for pot shop robberies — making the punishment comparable to pharmacy robberies — and is also pushing for the creation of a law enforcement task force to specifically focus on the problem. On the ground, Pickus also said that the [association] is helping distribute information and best practices to local retailers, which often includes guidance on security measures that can be taken, like hiring armed guards." - Tacoma News-Tribune

WA weed industry should be safe, equitable. To do it, modernize Liquor and Cannabis Board - January 26, 2022
Guest Op-Ed by WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen & Andy Murphy, co-author of "The Turbulent History of Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement in Washington State"

"The LCB is overseen by a three-member appointed board. With one member retiring, and another unconfirmed, it’s an ideal time to update the Board’s structure, which has been unchanged since 1934. The catalyst for this proposal is laid out in Senate Bill 5671. Importantly, this bill will not modify the Board’s power but will add members to strengthen its ability to understand the changing kaleidoscope of the global cannabis industry and the implications for license-holders, local communities and the state economy. We welcome ideas on reshaping the LCB so that Washington’s cannabis industry can again be the best in the nation. The legislature’s priorities may not include agency modernization this year. But we wait at our peril." - Tacoma News-Tribune

The Weed Wars of 2022 - January 24, 2022

"Critics argue the [LCB] has long been guilty of heavy-handed enforcement tactics and a lack of responsiveness to the industry and its defenders in the Legislature. In 20119, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 5318 to rein in the board enforcement arm." - The Washington Observer

Washington state marijuana industry robust, but challenges remain 10 years after legalization - January 24, 2022

"Ten years after Washington voters approved one of the nation’s first recreational marijuana programs, the state’s cannabis industry has become among the country’s largest, with annual sales of roughly $1.5 billion and more than 11,000 employees. Yet as Washington state marks the 10-year milestone, industry executives and advocates say reforms are needed to address issues such as high taxes and a “gotcha” regulatory climate as well as a shortfall in minority participation." - Marijuana Business Daily

State mulls changes to Washington marijuana industry amid claims of bias, abuses of power - January 19, 2022

"'SB 5671 is a proposal to modernize the Liquor and Cannabis Board, which since 2012 — when liquor was privatized in Washington state and cannabis was legalized — the board structure has remained the same since then, even though the scope of their regulatory responsibilities have changed dramatically in the past 10 years,' said Aaron Pickus, spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association." - KIRO 97.3 FM

‘Battle royale’: Cannabis regulation bills pit regulatory agency against some marijuana businesses - January 12, 2022

"WACA, which represents growers of all sizes, retailers and processors, as well as those in the hemp industry, has offered its own rebuttal legislation. That bill lists specific impairing cannabinoids, beyond just delta-8 THC, and allows them to be introduced into products for sale in retailers, subject to potency testing and labeling. Their bill better positions the state as the industry approaches the 10-year anniversary of passage of Initiative 502, which created the legal recreational market in Washington, Christophersen said. 'We don’t want to come back every year and say, now we found this thing,' Christophersen said. 'Let’s define an impairing cannabinoid, so we can all agree.'” - Spokane Spokesman

Washington state adult-use cannabis generates huge impacts, but tax burden high - January 11, 2022

"'While Washington was a first-mover in the legalization of recreational cannabis, in the view of many businesses interviewed for this study, it has since fallen behind other states in areas of regulation and taxes to support the statewide industry,' [Economic Impact Analysis study author Dr. Spencer] Cohen wrote." - Marijuana Business Daily

10 years later, industry says Washington’s legal marijuana needs an update - December 20, 2021

"A lot has changed in the last nine years, but some key aspects of the policy remain the same, and the industry says it is time for updates. 'The 10-year anniversary of the passage of Initiative 502, in some ways, feels like it’s been a lifetime, and other ways feels like it was just yesterday,' said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. 'We are really trying to look at this from that lens, and in terms of what do the next 10 years look like for the industry in Washington state? How do we set ourselves up?'" - 97.3 KIRO FM

Washington state’s cannabis traceability system begins with bumpy rollout - December 15, 2021

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, mentioned the same problem with CAPTCHA. 'We are hearing from members that there are significant impacts due to the time and labor it takes – 3-4 minutes each, often hundreds to upload per week,' she wrote. This single issue requires several hours of full-time work, sometimes for two to three new hires, Christophersen added." - Marijuana Business Daily

KOMO Radio Discusses SAFE Banking, Regulating All Impairing Cannabinoids and Access to Capital with WACA - December 7, 2021

SAFE Banking & Access to Capital (audio)

Regulating All Impairing Cannabinoids, LCB Board Reform & Access to Capital (audio)

Embattled Cannabis Board member leaves early - December 9, 2021

"'It is Russ Hauge’s inability to stop prosecuting that is a disservice to your office, the regulated cannabis industry in Washington, and to the public,' wrote Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, chair of the Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs Committee. The letter was also signed by Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the ranking member of the committee, as well as Sens. Derek Stanford, D-Bothel, and Ann Rivers, R-La Center." - The Washington Observer

The Delta Divide - November 1, 2021

"Washington CannaBusiness Association spokesman Aaron Pickus, whose organization supports the use of chemically derived cannabinoids as long as they are brought into the regulated system and tested for safety, agrees with Douglass and says these cannabinoids are simply going to be part of the discussion for the industry's future. 'When we see the innovations of pretty established technology, like conversion that is being used in food processing, now being applied in the cannabis sector and legal in other states, we want to make sure that Washington businesses - if they choose - have the options to take advantage of this innovation or any other safe and legal innovation,' he says. 'Whether it's hemp-derived THC, delta-8, or delta-9 or some other innovation down the road, these are things that should be transparent to a regulator and subject to safety standards.'" - Marijuana Venture, digital pages 19-22.

CannaBusiness Conference Comes to the Murano - November 1, 2021

"With next year being the 10th anniversary of I-502’s passage, WACA is using the occasion to analyze what has been learned and what lies ahead for Washington State and federal legalization, whenever that will occur. 'There are some pretty hard-earned lessons that have been learned and some things that have gone well, so how can we prepare for the next 10 years?' [WACA spokesperson] Pickus said. 'That is going to be a pretty big theme this year.'" - Tacoma Weekly

Opinion: After 10 years, critical work remains for Washington's cannabis regulations - October 28, 2021
By: Andy Brassington, President of Evergreen Herbal, WACA board trustee

"For public health and safety reasons alone, [delta-8] products should be illegal in our state unless they are produced, processed and purchased within the boundaries of the legal industry." - Puget Sound Business Journal

The latest on the battle to overturn Washington’s residency requirement - August 24, 2021

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association, which has lobbied for years to do away with the residency requirement, calls it an unconstitutional ban on access to capital. For example, industry insiders point out that prominent cannabis investors like rapper Jay-Z and comedians Cheech & Chong, who are major funders of Black- and Brown-owned cannabis companies, are unable to invest in Washington State businesses because of the rule." - MJ Brand Insights

Washington’s ‘joints for jabs’ vaccine program falling flat - June 9, 2021

"Retailers told the state Liquor and Cannabis Board during a meeting Wednesday that many don’t have the space to host a vaccine clinic. Some health care providers are queasy about setting up a clinic on the site of a marijuana business because they don’t want to jeopardize federal funding by being involved in the distribution of an illegal drug. And the program is set to expire July 12 — too soon for them to offer a second shot to customers who might show up for a first shot in mid- to late June.

"The retailers also ruefully noted that the Liquor and Cannabis Board allowed breweries, wineries and bars to offer a free drink to customers who merely showed proof of vaccination — no onsite clinic required. 'We’re hearing from retailers that they want to be a part of this,' said Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, an industry group. 'Why can’t we do this like the wineries and breweries did it?'" - Associated Press

Siding with innovation - June 9, 2021

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, sees it differently. While she maintains that unsafe and untested delta-8 THC shouldn’t be sold in unregulated markets, 'we believe all THC is THC as long as it’s derived from the cannabis plant.' She did make the distinction that synthetic THC that is not created from cannabis – commonly known as Spice or K2 – should be banned. But as long as the cannabis-derived THC is tested for safety and potency, Christophersen would like to see it allowed in the legal marijuana market. Regarding the concern marijuana growers are raising about hemp-derived CBD undercutting their profits, Christophersen said the state’s job is not to manage competition. 'We don’t think the regulators should be choosing winners and losers by how a licensee sources THC,' she added. Ultimately, the Washington CannaBusiness Association sides with the possibility for new products that hemp-derived THC offers. 'We cannot hamstring the innovation that’s occurring in this marketplace,' Christophersen said." - Marijuana Business Daily

Wash. Pot Sellers Wary Of State's 'Joints For Jabs' Rules - June 8, 2021

"We appreciate the consideration by the regulator to be included, but it is unclear why arbitrary restrictions were placed on the legal cannabis industry to participate in the state's incentive-based vaccination efforts that were not placed on our regulated peers," Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association trade group, told Law360 on Tuesday." - Law360

Editorial: State’s cannabis industry needs fair, focused rules - June 6, 2021

"Now nearing a decade since Washington voters approved the initiative in 2012 that made possession of recreational marijuana legal as of 2013 and allowed for legal production, processing and retail sales as of 2014, the industry has grown to support scores of businesses, thousands of employees and has provided millions in revenue to state coffers in excise taxes and license fees. In revenue alone, the industry-wide figure has grown from nearly $67.5 million dollars in its first year in 2014 to projected revenue for the 2021-23 biennium of $541.2 million, according to figures from the Washington Cannabusiness Association. Compare that to the $327 million in tax revenue from the sale of spirits in Washington state in 2020." - Everett Herald Editorial Board

Regulating new cannabis product delta 8 possible, but will require work, experts say - June 5, 2021

“'I do see a path, with ingredient standards and the proper regulations, to test and regulate these products so they can be safely used,' said Brad Douglas, an organic chemist with the Werc Shop, a cannabis testing laboratory based in Southern California [and WACA member]. 'That’s purely opinion, and based on my understanding of the science and toxicology. But I think it’s possible.'" - Spokesman-Review

Washington becomes latest state to clarify ban on hemp-derived ‘delta-8’ cannabis products - April 30, 2021

"The Washington Cannabusiness Association penned a letter to the Liquor and Cannabis Board in February requesting that the language of any policy statement not preclude the creation of delta-8 THC through 'natural processes.' 'The focus should be on incorporating all things cannabis into the regulated system in a safe manner, this includes delta-8 THC,' wrote Vicki Christophersen, the association’s executive director, in a letter sent to the Liquor and Cannabis Board in late February." - Spokesman-Review

WACA's February 22, 2021 Letter to the LCB - Delta-8

[Cannabis] foes seek to impose THC potency caps to curb industry’s growth - March 25, 2021

"The Legislature has already passed a deadline for advancing HB 1463, which would have banned all concentrates with more than 30% THC. That means the bill is effectively dead for this year, said Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association. But that doesn’t mean the issue itself is dead, particularly since this is the second year in a row such a policy has been brought forward by a Washington lawmaker, Pickus added. He predicted that it will likely come up again." - Marijuana Business Daily

Legal cannabis best bet to curb illicit suppliers - March 7, 2021
Guest Op-Ed by WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen

"We cannot rely on garage chemists and dealers driving around plastic baggies of weed and jars of concentrates to keep cannabis out of the hands of kids or responsibly regulate the contents of those baggies and jars. That’s why Washington approved a legal marketplace and it’s why the regulated industry will continue to be a partner in any conversations founded in science and earnestly endeavoring to uphold a safe, quality-controlled, taxed and regulated marketplace for cannabis." - Everett Herald

Cannabis goals outlined for upcoming Legislative session - January 1, 2021

"Equity is also a priority with the Washington Cannabusiness Association, which represents licensed and regulated cannabis and hemp businesses. WACA has created a legislative and regulatory agenda of items its members support, oppose or are neutral on, but equity is the focus this session. Executive Director/Lobbyist Vicki Christopherson is looking forward to hearing the recommendations of the state social equity commission. These will provide some needed first steps for the industry. Its official agenda states: 'We welcome engagement in the dialogue to correct flaws in the existing system which failed to recognize the impact of inequity on black and brown communities when it comes to cannabis business.' Beyond equity, Christopherson said WACA won’t suggest new legislation this session, but she and other members are ready to oppose efforts to increase the excise tax, which is already the highest of its type in the country. She understands that lawmakers are faced with trying to help other weaker sectors, but raising the tax to hurt isn’t the ideal solution especially when the legal market is trying to compete with the illicit market. 'Even though this tax is paid by consumers at the retail level, every entity feels its effects,' she said." - Spokesman

Cannabis sales surge, proving pot is pandemic-proof - December 2, 2020

It is also a misnomer that cannabis store owners are raking in the dough, say some owners. Supplying workers with personal protective equipment and complying with COVID-19 safety protocols are neither cheap nor easy. Marijuana is still deemed a serious drug by the federal government, putting federal pandemic funds out of their reach. 'Without a doubt, cannabis sales are up year-over-year and so are expenses in running retail cannabis shops,' said Stacey Peterson, owner of three Apex Cannabis stores in Eastern Washington and a member of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. 'Legal cannabis shops are ineligible for the federal relief funds — just as we are ineligible for normalized banking practices,' she said. 'For retailers like us, the increase in revenue is significant and is balanced by the significant increase in costs of running shops in the midst of a pandemic.' - Everett Herald

What a Biden presidency might mean for the inland Northwest - November 9, 2020

"...a spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association said it is unclear what will happen to the state cannabis industry under Biden, but any sort of federal regulations could help marijuana markets." - Spokesman-Review

Seattle's top pot retailers during pandemic rack up sales, but face higher costs - October 29, 2020

“'What we hear from folks is, ‘Look, we’re just hanging on. We’ve had to get real creative,’ said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of Washington CannaBusiness Association." - Puget Sound Business Journal

Social justice advocates and the tug-of-war over Washington state’s residency requirement - October 23, 2020

"For years, the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) has called for legislators to bring the state into line with its West Coast neighbors by lifting what the trade group calls an “unconstitutional ban on access to capital” from outside investors." - MJ Brand Insights

Challenge to WA marijuana residency requirement returned to state court - October 7, 2020

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, responded with a sharply worded letter to the [Attorney General's] office. 'Your position that our state’s cannabis industry does not enjoy the same protections as every other lawful Washington business undermines the will of state voters who overwhelmingly approved the creation of a legal marketplace in 2012,' she wrote." - Marijuana Business Daily

Twenty-Four State-Level Cannabis Trade Associations and Four Financial Institutions Ask Congress to Include the Cannabis Industry in Next Congressional Coronavirus Relief Package - April 28, 2020

In a letter authored by the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp and Policy Center for Public Health and Safety, 24 state-level cannabis trade associations from across the country including the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), are calling on Congress to end the discriminatory practice of the Small Business Administration’s exclusion of cannabis businesses from COVID-19 federal funding.

The letter, which can be found here and signed by WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen is also co-signed by four financial institutions that offer services to cannabis businesses in state regulated markets.

"'The disruptions to our economic, social and community lives caused by COVID-19 are severe and the regulated cannabis industry is vulnerable to the same economic upheaval as any other business sector,' said Vicki Christophersen, WACA executive director. 'While we are thankful that Governor Inslee has declared legal cannabis an Essential Service so that we may provide medical products to patients, continue combating the illicit market and generate critical tax revenue for our state, the fact is that cannabis remains illegal at the federal level and therefore blocks our members from normal banking practices. The inability of regulated cannabis businesses to access normal loans or make standard tax deductions is exacerbating the negative effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the marketplace, creating a significant need for federal relief for the industry to help protect jobs.'” - Press Release

Sticky’s Pot Shop re-emerges in Hazel Dell, business landscape different than when it had to close doors - April 24, 2020

"Earlier this month the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board released a memo reminding cannabis stores about safe operating guidelines and urging them to tone down the usual sale offers to make sure they don’t draw large crowds. The Washington CannaBusiness Association industry group put out similar advice last week, urging its members to make sure their stores stuck by health guidelines on the big day. The industry appeared to take that advice to heart, with most local stores either avoiding 4/20 specials, spacing promotional deals out over a longer period of time than usual or changing up their approach to the big day." - The Columbian

Washington’s weed businesses are considered essential, but feeling squeezed - April 20, 2020

“'Our businesses start out in an economic disadvantage,' [WACA executive director Vicki] Christophersen said. The Washington CannaBusiness Association is advocating for federal and state help for the industry, and Christophersen said she is hopeful that future assistance packages will include help for marijuana businesses." - KUOW (NPR)

A pot shop at your door: Home delivery surges amid outbreak - March 20, 2020

"At The Herbery, which operates two stores in Vancouver, Washington, sales have spiked about 30% since last Friday, when Gov. Jay Inslee announced widespread school closures and other measures to deal with the outbreak. One store saw sales double on a single day, said owner [WACA Board President] Jim Mullen."


"At the Vancouver, Washington, shops, the number of customers inside is being limited, so people sometimes have to wait outside for five or 10 minutes. 'We’ve got Purell by the cash registers — we’re handling cash every day,' owner Mullen said." - Associated Press

We had CBD products tested in a lab. Here’s what we found - February 13, 2020

"Jim Mullen, president of the Washington Cannabusiness Association agrees. He's currently lobbying state lawmakers in Olympia on a variety of legislation to further clarify the CBD industry. 'I absolutely am a believer in CBD,' said Mullen. "I know that further research is going to prove the benefits of CBD in a lot of different areas. Probably in areas we haven't even thought of yet.'" - KING 5

NOTE: The legislation mentioned in this story will not advance further in the 2020 Legislative Session. However, the Liquor and Cannabis Board has released new guidance regarding the sale of CBD-only products by licensed cannabis retailers. You may find that guidance on their website here.

Washington to Washington - February 6, 2020
In this episode of Washington to Washington...It’s a billion dollar business in Washington state but illegal under federal law. Banks who do business with cannabis stores face risks including federal prosecution. How are lawmakers in Congress and Olympia addressing the issue? And why is cannabis banking reform so critical to marijuana retailers? 

In a special feature produced by TVW, WACA Board President Jim Mullen (The Herbery, Retail) and Board Member Russ Rosendal (Salal Credit Union, President and CEO) speak to the ongoing challenges regulated cannabis license-holders face in accessing basic business banking services.

Cannabis Association Withdraws Legislation - January 17, 2020
Industry association will continue advocacy in 2020 Legislative Session to allow licensed cannabis stores to offer CBD-only products and reform location compliance requirements

"Today the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) shared that it had requested HB 2263 and SB 6085 be withdrawn from consideration during the 2020 Legislative Session. The legislation proposed creating a new fund to support equity in the marketplace and would have removed Washington’s residency requirements for investing in a regulated cannabis business. WACA formally made the request to the legislature following a House committee hearing on HB 2263 the morning of January 16.

'As an industry, we are committed to upholding a safe, well-regulated and quality-controlled marketplace that works to keep cannabis out of the hands of kids,' said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of WACA. 'We were proud to offer a proposal for improving equity in the industry and hope that the conversation continues on this important work. Our members remain concerned that Washington’s potentially unconstitutional ban on access to capital continues to be in effect.'" - Press Release (.PDF)

Washington lawmaker proposes allowing CBD in food - January 9, 2020

"But rather than a patchwork of state rules, the hemp industry needs a national policy from the FDA to ensure CBD is safe and legal, [WACA executive director Vicki Christophersen] said. 'It's just creating a lot of uncertainty for farmers and manufacturers.'" - Capital Press

CBD craze: For the sake of consumer safety, let the licensed cannabis industry in - December 22, 2019
Seattle Times Guest Editorial by Vicki Christophersen, WACA Executive Director (Sunday print edition)

"As we work to strengthen the regulatory framework around cannabis, we also see an opportunity to make public safety a consistent priority throughout the system. We should insist CBD-only products are accountable for dosage and content, and allow licensed, regulated cannabis businesses accustomed and expert on such measures to offer these products in their regulated stores."


"We are making great strides in normalizing banking practices for the industry and applaud the U.S. House for its landslide bipartisan vote to approve the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, enabling banks and credit-card companies to serve the cannabis industry. The bill is now under consideration in the Senate. To further align the legal cannabis industry — which has already contributed $1 billion to the state, employing more than 10,000 people — with its peers in our state economy, we also are proposing to remove the residency requirement on access to capital to support local license holders as they invest, compete and incentivize employees, among other standard business practices. This same proposal would also establish a structure to help improve access and create resources within the industry for people of color who choose them. We will continue to seek improvements that strengthen the system by expanding opportunity and ensuring it is as diverse as the people in the communities where businesses exist." - Seattle Times

Want marijuana delivered to your door? Yeah, even the trade group says not yet, Washington - December 17, 2019

“'WACA will pursue passage of legislation that strengthens our existing industry by infusing it with new investment and establishing an Equity Fund that will help people representing a diversity of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability,'” according to its agenda." - Tacoma News Tribune

Employment in Spokane cannabis market grows - November 7, 2019

"[WACA Executive Director Vicki] Christophersen called the legalization of marijuana in the state an 'incredible story.' 'It’s based on the fact that voters of the state approved exactly what they wanted,' she says. 'It’s now a billion-dollar industry to Washington where there is innovative science and creativity being applied.'


"'Our employees are passionate about cannabis,' [Stacey Peterson, co-owner of Apex Cannabis and WACA member] says. 'They have a great depth of knowledge.' Peterson says the couple would like to open at least two more stores in Eastern Washington in the short-term future. 'As soon as the right deal comes along, we plan to expand,' she says. 'It’s been a great adventure; there’s so much more to do.'" - Spokane Journal of Business

Smaller farms hopes to benefit from LCB proposals - November 1, 2019

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association, a trade group, has been advocating for an expanded canopy for Tiers 1 growers since 2016." 


"“We’ve been very fortunate to have joined WACA and get to experience how our Legislature really works,” said [WACA member and owner of Hygge Farms, a Tier 1 producer] Berger. Added [co-owner] Park, “We want to do this professionally and move the industry forward.” - Evercannabis - Spokesman Review

Washington marijuana businesses report glass jars, packaging seized by U.S. Customs agents - October 30, 2019

“'We are continuing to work with appropriate federal officials to resolve the issues as soon as possible for all affected businesses,' said Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for [the Washington CannaBusiness Association], in an email. 'While I can’t share an exact number of affected businesses, we have heard from several of our members who have been affected.'" - Spokesman-Review

Statement on Governor Inslee’s Executive Order Concerning Vaping Products - September 27, 2019
Regulated cannabis industry reiterates commitment to uphold public health and safety 

“The top priority of regulated cannabis license-holders is to uphold all the safeguards in place to protect public safety,” said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. “That is why we fully support the urgency with which Governor Inslee, Washington’s Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control are acting to identify any and all risks to consumer safety resulting from vaping-related illness. We concur with actions ordered that reflect the rigor necessary to find the problem, address it, and implement solutions that prioritize public health. The policies we support are also actionable by affected business owners and their employees, who may or may not unwittingly offer any product which has caused harm, but who are struggling nonetheless against the unknown threat.”

Read the full statement HERE (.PDF)

Medical cannabis patients can apply for one-time grant to help offset product costs - September 21, 2019

"There is now money available for medical marijuana patients to bring some relief to their cannabis purchase cost. Earlier this month, the Washington CannaBusiness Association announced that its Washington Medical Access Fund is accepting applications from qualifying patients to help offset product cost. The program is similar to other nonprofit programs that provide prescription-drug price relief." Tacoma News Tribune

To spur investment, marijuana businesses want rules eased - September 13, 2019

"A leading marijuana industry group wants to erase a legal barrier to out-of-state investments in existing businesses and create a new stream of funding for start-ups run by women and minorities." - Everett Herald

Cannabis Medical Access Fund Now Accepting Patient Applications - September 11, 2019

“'Our members – state-licensed cannabis producers, processors and retailers – work every day to uphold a safe, regulated and quality-controlled legal marketplace,' said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association.  'Part of our commitment is to help do our part by lowering financial barriers that patients may encounter when purchasing products recommended by a medical professional. We are looking forward to awarding our first grants and continuing to fundraise for this new program on behalf of patients in our state.'" - Press Release (.PDF)

Washington state cannabis trade group proposes capital equity fund - September 9, 2019

"A cannabis industry trade group in Washington state on Monday proposed legislation to fund a social equity program that would help remove barriers to capital for minority business owners and would eliminate a residency requirement for potential investors in the market. The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) put forward the Cannabis Capital Equity Act, which would be supported by revenue generated by a fee of 1% on investments into marijuana businesses totaling over $500,000." - Marijuana Business Daily

Bringing Diversity to Legal Weed Is Becoming a Top Priority in Washington - September 9, 2019

"...the state’s most powerful trade group issued a proposal for the state to create a second fund that could offer low-interest loans to people from disadvantaged communities to start pot businesses."


"The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) just released its two-part proposal for boosting minority ownership of pot businesses. First, the state would legalize out-of-state investment in the pot industry. Currently, only individuals who reside in Washington can put money into a pot business. Second, a 1 percent fee would be tacked onto any investments over $500,000 in pot businesses, and that fee would be put into a fund that provides low-interest loans to minority business owners." - The Stranger

Cannabis Association Proposes Solutions to Inequities in Legal Marketplace - September 9, 2019

“'Some of the systemic inequities of the War on Drugs have continued even after the legalization of cannabis in Washington,' said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. 'Five years since legalization, we continue to see persistent under-representation of people of color, women and others for whom the door of opportunity has not been open as wide. This interim our members voted overwhelmingly to support the creation of a new Equity Fund to address this disparity and ensure fair and even opportunity within the regulated market. We look forward to working closely with our elected leaders in Olympia so that we may collaborate together on addressing this important work.'” - Press Release (.PDF)

Marijuana industry shakes 'Cheech and Chong' stereotype, improves in public eye - September 8, 2019

"Though industry officials acknowledge that there’s still some pushback against cannabis, they say the business has made great strides in “normalizing” marijuana in the last five years. A recent Gallup poll shows that 66% of U.S. citizens support legalizing the drug — an all-time high, and a 10-point boost over the rate when Washington legalized the substance seven years ago. Industry officials credit the change of heart to time, which has helped dispel some of the misconceptions that roused opposition to legal cannabis. 'I think what you are seeing is sort of a natural progression, now that we are five years in. People have started to see that the industry as a whole are committed to a safe marketplace that is fully regulated and keeps products out of the hands of the kids,' said Vicki Christophersen, executive director for the Washington CannaBusiness Association." - Longview Daily News 

5 years in, Washington considers overhaul of pot regulation - August 27, 2019

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association, an industry group, said it agrees there is a need for a social equity program, and it’s been working on its own version. 'We think there’s an opportunity to go even beyond' what the board is proposing, said spokesman Aaron Pickus."

"Paige Berger, CEO of Hygge Farms in Onalaska [and WACA member], said she’s excited about the board’s proposal [to increase canopy size for tier-ones]. She initially obtained a tier-one license because she didn’t have enough money to invest in a larger operation. Now, she said, she’s hamstrung by her limited size: She can only produce enough marijuana to have product in 10 licensed cannabis shops. 'I can’t get out there and expand my brand to what I think it could do,' Berger said." - Associated Press

NOTE: WACA has actively advocated a pathway for tier-ones to expand canopy size since 2016.

Most Powerful Pot Lobbyist - July 31, 2019

Featured in The Stranger's 'Women in Power' issue alongside Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, world champion Megan Rapinoe, Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez and Teresa Mosqueda, and other local leaders.

"Vicki Christophersen [WACA executive director and lobbyist] is the most powerful person in the legal pot industry." - The Stranger

‘Breakdown’ in Washington state traceability system update costs cannabis businesses thousands - July 17, 2019

"An outage of Washington state’s seed-to-sale traceability system prevented hundreds of cannabis producers, processors and retailers from conducting business-to-business transactions over the past four days. The outage, which started Saturday night and ended Wednesday morning, resulted in significant lost sales, according to some of the state’s marijuana businesses. 'People are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a business that they don’t have to lose,' Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), said before the outage was repaired."


"'Taking this live without knowing that this is going to work has a massive impact. We just can’t keep doing this to this industry,' [Christophersen said]." - Marijuana Business Daily

Clark County May Soon Lift Ban On Recreational Cannabis Sales - July 2, 2019

[Clark County Commissioners voted to remove the county ban]

"Jim Mullen, owner of The Herbery [and WACA board president], runs three retail shops in Vancouver and is looking to open a fourth in Salmon Creek if the ban is lifted. 'We’re growing every year,' said Mullen, who wants a more convenient option for customers living in North Clark County. 'Having a stake in the game is just the right decision.'"


"'The sky hasn’t fallen — and frankly there’s revenue to be made,' said Vicki Chistophersen, executive director of the trade group Washington CannaBusiness Association. She said the cannabis industry is responsible for 10,000 jobs and $250 million in wages statewide. 'I think folks are starting to understand that this is a legitimate, legal business and it’s safe.'” - Oregon Public Radio

Editorial: Time to let marijuana businesses deal with banks - June 4, 2019

"In a recent interview with the online news site Crosscut, Vicki Christophersen, the executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said 'The employees of those businesses can’t do normal things that you and I would do, like go get a car loan or go get a mortgage … The list is endless when you actually start thinking about what people don’t have access to because they don’t have access to normal banking.' No matter where one falls on the morality question of marijuana, the fact remains it is legal in the state and should be treated no differently than other businesses when it comes to dealing with banks." - Yakima Herald Editorial Board

Editorial: Let cannabis businesses open bank accounts - June 2, 2019

"Even those who oppose legal pot should understand that the current situation is problematic. Which is why support is building for federal legislation to allow banks to work with legal marijuana companies. Washington Treasurer Duane Davidson, a conservative Republican who voted against legalizing pot in Washington, recently wrote a letter to Congress in support of the legislation, calling it a public safety issue." - Spokesman-Review Editorial Board

Editorial: Let cannabis businesses take their money to banks - May 22, 2019

"The legislation before Congress needn’t be seen as the next step on the slippery slope toward federal legalization of marijuana; that can remain an issue for individual states to decide. But for Washington state and others — where a clear majority of voters elected to make the sale and possession of marijuana legal — federal law should be amended to allow those businesses to conduct their finances in a safe and accessible manner and for state regulators to be able to keep an eye on those transactions." - Everett Herald Editorial Board

Skip the ATM: Congress may finally let you buy weed without cash - May 20, 2019

"Vicki Christophersen, the executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the conversations members of her group are having with lawmakers this year in Washington, D.C., have been of an entirely different tone than in the past. 'People are now talking to us that wouldn’t even have meetings before,' Christophersen said." - Crosscut

Amid the 4/20 hoopla, state’s pot businesses still face challenging future - April 19, 2019

"The Washington CannaBusiness Association, representing the state’s licensed and regulated cannabis businesses, late last year brought attention to several issues for legislators to consider."


"Other bills that won support included protecting intellectual property of brands, including royalty and licensing agreements. A lot of work also was done to help businesses comply with the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board instead of being issued immediate fines for lesser violations, along with improved education for industry participants. 'We still believe someone who chooses to be regulated and open their books should be treated as a legitimate business, and when they make a mistake, be held accountable,' Christophersen said. The new framework sets up a consultation program 'to help licensees learn how to be in business,' she said, 'and to learn what they need to correct.' Another victory was changes regarding product information and labeling in terms of medical information in line with FDA regulations."


"On the investment piece, 'We’ve been working three years trying to modernize this law to access capital,' she said. 'We’re not giving up.' Industry pay comparisons, a spinoff from the investment issue, have become more notable for the disparities among markets. A recent review of cannabis job pay scales as reported in Marijuana Business Magazine showed differences nationwide and between states. The report noted that East Coast cannabis companies were drawing workers 'from West Coast rivals' with better pay and perks." - Tacoma News Tribune

Legislature Passes New Weed Laws Just in Time for 4/20 - April 18, 2019

"Vicki Christophersen, a lobbyist and executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the bill’s new regulations were 'critical reforms.'" - The Stranger

Here's which marijuana-related bills are likely to get approved or killed in Olympia in 2019 - April 18, 2019

"It's been a busy legislative session when it comes to cannabis laws in the Evergreen state. A handful of key bills reforming aspects of recreational marijuana are expected to cross the finish line and land on Gov. Jay Inslee's desk before the end of the session (April 28). 'We feel very good about the progress that has been made so far this session on behalf of the industry's priorities,' says Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), an industry lobbying group.Three high-profile bills have already passed at least one chamber and are expected to get floor votes in the corresponding house. (Two were recently approved by both houses.) All of them were on WACA's legislative wishlist for the year." - The Inlander

Lawmakers ease penalties on illegal pot sales by 'budtenders' - April 16, 2019

"The new charging procedure brings cannabis sales by 'budtenders' into alignment with unintentional sales of alcohol to a minor. 'A felony leaves a permanent mark on a person's life, severely altering their future options,' said Vicki Christopherson, head of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. The cannabis industry has come to employ 10,000 people across the Evergreen State since the state voted in 2012 to legalize, regulate and tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use. Washington and Colorado were the first states to take the step." - SeattlePI.Com

Budtender Penalty Reform Passes State Legislature - April 16, 2019

“A felony leaves a permanent mark on a person’s life – severely altering their future opportunities. The Legislature has demonstrated real leadership by bringing cannabis penalties into alignment with the alcohol/spirits industry by re-classifying the unintentional sale of product to a minor,” said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. “The intentional sale of product to a minor will – and should – remain a felony crime. But this new criminal classification brings a new level of fairness for those working in the cannabis industry and we thank Representatives Pettigrew and Appleton for their leadership this year to fix this significant disparity in penalties.” - Press Release (.PDF)

Washington Legislature Passes Cannabis Compliance Reform - April 16, 2019

“On behalf of the entire cannabis industry, we applaud our state leaders for their determination to implement these critical reforms,” said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. “The industry has never wavered in its commitment to work collaboratively with lawmakers and regulators in our shared goal to uphold public safety while refocusing appropriate enforcement measures on the illicit market. Our members especially thank the bipartisan sponsors of this legislation – Senators Rivers, Palumbo and Wagoner – as well as Senator Keiser and Representatives Kirby, Stanford and MacEwen who spent countless hours with their fellow legislators to provide important input in their work with stakeholders on policies that protect public safety and appropriately adopt best practices for effective regulatory compliance.” - Press Release (.PDF)

Washington’s Legislature Is Close to Passing Major Pot Enforcement Reform - April 11, 2019

"Senator Guy Palumbo, a Democrat from Maltby who sponsored the enforcement reform bill, said the law would help the state’s small pot businesses. 'I am a champion for small businesses and a lot of these businesses are just really being hurt by the LCB enforcement actions,” Palumbo said, 'I think we need to move to a compliance model and not a 'got you' enforcement model.'" - The Stranger

Chart: Low prices, lack of investment stifle cannabis growing capacity in Washington state - April 9, 2019

"Washington state cannabis companies are barred from accessing out-of-state capital, but Aaron Pickus, spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said his trade group is 'vigorously advocating for at least a partial lift of that ban.' A lack of capital creates a barrier to increasing the value and footprint of your business, Pickus noted. But the low price point for flower may limit investor interest if flower is a grower’s sole focus. 'The biggest return on investment that we would see in Washington is going to be on the R&D (research and development) side, the talent-acquisition side, areas like that,' Pickus said." - Marijuana Business Daily

Budtenders Face Felonies for Accidentally Selling to Minors, This Law Would Change That - April 3, 2019

"Vicki Christophersen, a lobbyist and the executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said there are instances of budtenders being charged with felonies but there is no statewide data on how often that happens. 'We haven’t been able to aggregate data across the state but we know that it is happening. And we just fundamentally agree that even if it just happens once it’s not the right thing to happen to a budtender,' Christophersen said. 'Felony convictions change people’s lives forever, they restrict their ability to do a lot of the things that we all enjoy.'"


"Christophersen said the law still allows authorities to charge people with felonies when they intentionally sell or distribute cannabis to a minor. 'If you really are intentionally selling to minors then you could still be subject to a felony. But for negligence, which is defined by things that you think of like misreading a fake ID, that would be subject to a gross misdemeanor,' Christophersen said." - The Stranger

Pioneering legal pot states aim to ease rules on industry - April 2, 2019

"Another proposal, a wide-ranging overhaul of Washington’s regulatory enforcement, is a compromise between industry groups, including the Washington CannaBusiness Association, and the Liquor and Cannabis Board. The association has lobbied hard for the changes, arguing that the board’s enforcement has been aggressive and uneven."


“'The industry overall has made long strides in being a safe and fully regulated marketplace,' [WACA executive director Vicki] Christophersen said. 'The legislation stems out of several years of frustration, of folks feeling like they want to be regulated, they want to be taxed, they want to do the right thing, but they feel they’re still being treated as criminal enterprises.'"

"Washington lawmakers are considering a dual approach: easing financial restrictions while taking a more lenient view of rules violations, making it less likely businesses will lose their licenses for things like sloppy record-keeping. Three dozen have had their licenses canceled since 2015, while 32 more face revocation notices, according to the state Liquor and Cannabis Board. One measure pending in the Democratic-led Legislature would open the industry to out-of-state ownership and allow businesses to become bigger, with a caveat: Any licensees hoping to take advantage would have to agree to let their workforce unionize. Those that do could have up to 40% of their ownership held outside of Washington. They would also be able to obtain two additional marijuana licenses, allowing them to have up to seven retail shops or up to five growing and processing licenses, said the main sponsor, Sen. Rebecca Saldana." - The Associated Press

Marijuana regulation sparks debate - March 26, 2019
Lawmakers including Rivers, Vick say state board heavy-handed, unfair

"How the agency regulates the roughly 2,000 businesses that hold licenses to produce, process, sell and transport cannabis has caught the attention of state lawmakers who are worried the agency is taking an overly punitive approach to an increasingly mainstream industry. During the current legislative session, Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, has sponsored Senate Bill 5318, which seeks to shift the liquor and cannabis board’s approach to education and collaboration and away from penalties." - The Columbian

Full-Page Print Ad in Friday March 22, 2019 edition of the Seattle Times

Click HERE for .PDF of the ad

Washington’s cannabis industry needs investment reform - March 20, 2019

A guest column published by the Seattle Times Editorial Board and authored by Jamie Hoffman, CEO of Craft Elixirs and WACA member.

"Our cannabis marketplace is artificially constrained — putting small businesses at a disadvantage when competing against better-financed businesses who already have deep-pockets in-state. A successful small business without a well-heeled family member or wealthy in-state investor often cannot expand to distribute statewide, for example. Imagine if any of the software giants from our state had been restricted from investors outside of Washington. Initially it might be OK — every place has a community with some affluence. But as the market grows, there are few left to invest within the geographical borders of a single place. And in cannabis, the limitations are apparent quickly, especially while financial options are also restricted due to federal banking regulations." - Seattle Times Guest Editorial

KOMO Radio - Coverage of legislation to allow disease claims and reform compliance enforcement by LCB - March 19, 2019

Audio on disease claims - interview with WACA executive director Vicki Christophersen

Audio on compliance reform - interview with WACA executive director Vicki Christophersen

Growing pains: Strict rules for legal pot businesses threaten booming industry - March 18, 2019

"'It's a really unfortunate situation,' says State Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, who may be The Clone Zone's last hope. He is one of many legislators who are backing a pair of bills that aim to ease the harsh penalties for minor violations, and create a system focused on compliance, rather than enforcement. 'Anytime you set up a new industry, there's going to be a lot of learning that goes on in those first couple of years. People like the Clone Zone had a few minor violations, and now they are losing their livelihood, and all the money they have invested and all the living wage jobs, and that is just wrong in my opinion,' Palumbo says." - Q13 News

Lawmakers say the LCB is unfairly targeting marijuana businesses - March 7, 2019

"From the beginning, marijuana businesses have faced higher scrutiny, and oftentimes harsher penalties, than their counterparts in the liquor industry, though both fall under the same jurisdiction under the LCB. But the attitude among LCB enforcement officers has been more antagonistic, the letter from lawmakers states." - The Inlander

Editorial: Minor violations shouldn’t close cannabis growers - February 27, 2019

"...responsible growers shouldn’t be driven out of business based on violations that wouldn’t have necessarily led to legitimate concerns about the safety of children and teens or the diversion of marijuana into the black market." - Everett Daily Herald Editorial

Ten Washington Lawmakers Claim Liquor and Cannabis Board Has a "Toxic Culture" - February 26, 2019

"Washington's weed regulator is in hot water after a bipartisan group of ten state lawmakers said in a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee that the agency has a 'toxic culture' and called on the governor to rescind his nomination of Russ Hauge, one of the agency’s board members. The lawmakers claimed in the letter that Hauge was 'either ignorant of the facts, or purposely did not tell the truth' at a legislative committee hearing this month. - The Stranger

State restrictions on cannabis packaging worry producers - February 15, 2019

“'The customer would have no idea what they are purchasing,” said Wendy Hull [Fairwinds, WACA member], who worries that the regulations could result in a customer taking a product like 'Deep Sleep' in the morning. 'We feel it’s a consumer risk.'"


"The situation has caught the attention of local state lawmakers, who’ve introduced legislation intended to remedy the situation."

"Vicki Christophersen, the executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, also spoke in favor of the bill before the House Commerce and Gaming Committee as a way to help consumers navigate the increasing variety of products, such as creams and tinctures, that have appeared in marijuana stores. 'This is really about consumer information and consumer protection,' she said. If a consumer is looking for a product to help with sleep, the product should display the word 'sleep,' she said." - The Columbian

Cannabis Industry Supports Legislation for Viable, Safe Marketplace - January 17, 2019

“'Our focus since the legal regulated marketplace for cannabis first opened in 2014 has been on adopting lessons-learned as both regulators and business-owners alike have collaborated to support the long-term viability and safety of our industry,' said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. 'While the legal cannabis industry is still young, we have already come a long way in learning what works – and doesn’t work – when it comes to fostering a regulated marketplace that keeps products out of the hands of minors and provides license-holders regulatory transparency and business viability. We thank our elected leaders for introducing legislation crafted to implement best practices developed since I-502 was adopted in 2012 to set up our Washington businesses to compete in a rapidly growing, global industry.'” - Press Release (.PDF)

Pot advocates hope the Legislature makes working in the industry more fair - January 16, 2019

"Compliance reform is at the top of the legislative agenda for the state’s leading marijuana advocacy organization, the Washington CannaBusiness Association (or WACA), and that means protecting license holders from severe penalties from the Liquor and Cannabis Board, says WACA Director Vicki Christophersen." - The Inlander

Washington cannabis regulators says candy can stay, but it can’t be so colorful - December 16, 2018

"Members of the Washington CannaBusiness Association are 'very pleased with the results,' the trade group’s Executive Director Vicki Christophersen told reporters in a recent conference call.


'At the end of the day we’re still in business,' [Jamie Hoffman, CEO of Craft Elixirs, WACA member] said. 'If I have to figure out a way to do it, I’ll figure out a way to do it.'" - Seattle Times

State cannabis sellers want the Legislature to allow broader CBD sales and make other reforms - December 11, 2018

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director and lobbyist for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, recently briefed the media on the group’s legislative agenda for the coming session. 'We feel this is a pivotal year,” she told reporters on the call Dec. 5. In the years since legalization, “we’ve learned a lot, and we’re ready to take this comprehensive agenda to the Legislature.'" - Tacoma News-Tribune

No Bright Colors, but Pot Candy Still Legal in Washington State - December 6, 2018

"'There will be more clarity on what is allowed in terms of shapes and colors, but no particular product or type of product will be banned, as it was previously stated,' said Vicki Christophersen, the executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association." - The Stranger

Washington State Might Be Reversing Their Pot Candy Ban, Baby! - November 30, 2018

"I spoke with Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for WACA, and he said the organization had been briefed by LCB staff this morning about the new proposed rules. Pickus declined to offer any details but said the updated policy moved in 'a good direction.' 'LCB staff briefed us this morning with their current thinking for an interim policy decision. Their next step will be bringing that to the board for their review and consideration,' Pickus said. 'Following our briefing from staff, we think things are going in a very positive direction. We expect to hear formally from the LCB either today or Monday.' The cannabis industry has been fighting against the LCB’s proposed ban on all infused candies since the state unexpectedly announced the plan in early October. Industry groups called the LCB’s ban 'arbitrary and sudden' and called the state to 'immediately rescind' the proposed ban. The industry groups gained the support of four influential state legislators and then the LCB caved and said they would pause for thirty days while they reevaluated the ban. Friday’s announcement said that the LCB’s staff presented a proposal to the LCB Board earlier this week. The board then directed the agency’s staff to include more of the comments from the public health community in the proposed rules." - The Stranger

Mitch McConnell’s Farm Bill Could Blow Up the CBD Market - November 28, 2018

"[Seth Goldberg, a partner and the head of the cannabis practice at the Philadelphia law firm Duane Morris], who is watching the Farm Bill for a trade group of West Coast pot businesses called the Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance [co-founded by WACA], said the hemp legalization measures appear to have support from both Republicans and Democrats. 'The bill seems to have bipartisan support and there is no indication that it will not be included in the 2018 Farm Bill when it passes,' Goldberg said." - The Stranger

Marijuana edible makers fret as Washington considers crackdown - November 2, 2018

"'It was a bombshell,' said Andy Brassington, chief operating officer of cannabis processor Evergreen Herbal, whose phone started buzzing right after the Oct. 3 announcement."

"Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director Vicki Christophersen called for “a system of predictability' that could make the current rules and guidelines seem less arbitrary. 'Members just want to know what the rules are and have them clearly laid out to know what is and is not allowed,' she said."

"[Jamie Hoffman of Craft Elixirs and WACA member] now makes 120,000 of the vegan, gluten-free chews from real fruit each month, but she fears losing the entire line. Hoffman said she wouldn’t have the money to start over on a new product again. 'I’m really proud of what we created,” she said. “If this ruling sticks, it is going to be heartbreaking.'" - Puget Sound Business Journal [cover story]

Adults can do better keeping pot edibles that look like treats from children - October 31, 2018

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington Cannabusiness Association, says the entire industry wants to partner with the Liquor and Cannabis Board to strengthen and clarify state regulations about edibles to improve safety and prevent an all-out ban. She says they are willing to follow the rules, but they need more specifics about what is allowed and what isn’t. That sounds like a very adult approach to improvement in this young industry." - Seattle Times Editorial Board

Pot Industry Asks for Transparent Candy Rules - October 30, 2018

"Many of the recommendations from the three industry groups—the Washington CannaBusiness Association, the Cannabis Alliance, and the Cannabis Organization of Retail Establishments—are centered around asking the state to clearly spell out what is and isn't allowed. They want the state to publish a list of what shapes, colors, and advertising words are allowed and not allowed on candy products. The LCB has not been this clear in the past." - The Stranger

Washington Pot Businesses Unite to Oppose Candy Ban - October 10, 2018

"Their statement called the opposition a 'first-of-its-kind joint statement.' In addition to the public statement, the three groups wrote a direct letter to the LCB calling the recent ban on candy products, which the LCB has previously approved, 'arbitrary and sudden.' '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,' according to the letter shared with The Stranger by a spokesperson for WACA." - The Stranger

Cannabis Industry Calls on State Regulators to Reconsider Infusions Ban - October 9, 2018

In an unprecedented joint statement, the Washington CannaBusiness Association, The Cannabis Alliance and the Cannabis Organization of Retail Establishments urge regulators to return to sound policymaking for regulated marketplace.

"Given our history of cooperation and collaboration with the LCB, we were surprised and disappointed  by the LCB’s abrupt, unilateral decision to ban previously LCB-approved cannabis-infused sweetened products. The success of the regulated marketplace depends on sound policymaking and data-driven rules that support its viability and uphold expected safeguards for kids and the public."

Washington could weed out certain pot edibles - October 5, 2018

"'It was an unwarranted surprise to the industry,' said [WACA member] Andy Brassington, the Chief Operating Officer of Evergreen Herbal, a manufacturer of cannabis infused edibles. 'It would be most unfortunate for the consumers and the patients in the state of Washington that are eligible and firmly entitled to have these legal products,' said Brassington." - KING 5

No more lies: Banks and credit unions take a risk to serve the budding legal marijuana industry - August 16, 2018

"[WACA member] Salal’s assets have grown from $262.5 million to around $594.7 million since the credit union started serving marijuana businesses, though not all of the growth is linked to the cannabis industry."

"[WACA board president] Jim Mullen, co-founder of the Herbery marijuana retail store, is a Salal customer. He’s had trouble with financial institutions, like when ADP terminated his account once they found out his Vancouver-based business sold marijuana, he said. '(Salal) saved our bacon,' Mullen said. 'We send a lot of people to them.'" - Puget Sound Business Journal

Cannabis industry helped Arlington bounce back from recession - July 29, 2018

[Guest column co-authored by Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert and Smokey Point Productions Inc. CFO Emily Lade, WACA member]

"Smaller cities in our state are experts in encouraging diverse economic development, especially with the memory of the Great Recession still fresh in our minds. The city of Arlington stands as a powerful model for a different approach than those cities and counties that have continued to resist or ban the regulated cannabis industry from operating." - Puget Sound Business Journal

Marijuana jobs surpass the sawmill as an old timber town pivots to cannabis - July 29, 2018

"[Port of Willapa Harbor Manager Rebecca] Chaffee said the Port of Willapa has 15 leases with marijuana companies, and the industry employs close to 200 people in Raymond, nearly 7 percent of the town’s roughly 3,000 residents. [WACA member] BMF alone employs 83 people. There are 17 active marijuana producers or processors licensed in Pacific County, most of which are in the town of Raymond. Combined, the cannabis companies have become the city’s largest private employer ahead of Weyerhaeuser’s sawmill, Chaffee said. 'That ratio would be like adding a Boeing or something to another city,' Chaffee said. 'The bottom line is the industry has created jobs and contributed to the local economy.'"

"Vicki Christophersen, the executive director of Washington CannaBusiness Association says that impact is replicated in cities all around the state, such as Arlington. Her association says the moratoriums some areas have in place have been a challenge for the industry. While she respects the right to local control, she’s hopeful those jurisdictions will come to recognize the economic impact they are missing out on and expand the geographic footprint of the industry." - Puget Sound Business Journal

Big deals are coming as Washington state's marijuana industry matures - July 29, 2018

Story features WACA members BMF and The Herbery.

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, says the marijuana industry is still maturing. The supply and demand issues, challenging regulatory structure and the fact that the industry is still federally illegal make for a volatile marketplace. 'I don’t think anybody can tell you exactly when things will stabilize or how they will stabilize,' she said. 'We have to remind ourselves,' Christophersen said, 'that we are in a very young industry that is still figuring out its own marketplace.'" - Puget Sound Business Journal

Banking on Bud - July 19, 2018

“'We saw this as one of those golden opportunities that don’t come around very often,' [Salal Credit Union CEO and WACA board member Russ Rosendal] explained. 'When our board was taking the vote to go ahead with this, one of our directors said, ‘I’ve always wanted to be part of a revolution.’ That’s kind of what we feel we are a part of here.'”

LCB visits Spokane for round-table - July 6, 2018

"At an industry round-table in Spokane in early June, Garza and other LCB officials heard concerns and compliments about the existing system and discussed what could be coming in the future at a state and federal level. The event was sponsored by Apex Cannabis and the Washington CannabisBusiness Association." - Spokesman-Review

Landmark legislation introduced by Senators Warren, Gardner to protect state cannabis marketplaces - June 7, 2018

“'We strongly urge our Congressional leaders to support this critical legislation to protect states and Tribal rights as well as the will of voters – regulated, legal cannabis marketplaces are reducing the size of the black market, which makes our communities safer and keeps pot out of the hands of minors,' said WACA board president Jim Mullen and CORE board member Eric Gaston in a joint statement. 'As members of the Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance, we support cannabis laws, regulations and policies at the regional- and federal-levels of government that uphold the safety, viability and quality of legal state cannabis marketplaces. This bipartisan legislation by Senators Warren and Gardner will help keep our communities safe by respecting the growth of the nascent legal cannabis marketplace that seeks to eliminate the illicit and dangerous black market of the near past.'” - Press Release (.PDF)

Patients could get medical marijuana delivered to their door - April 16, 2018

"'We do have a lot of questions,' said Aaron Pickus, spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association. 'Studying this in a thoughtful way is a good next step.'" - Everett Herald

NCIA trying to unify state trade associations, but is competition on the horizon? - March 8, 2018

"'We have some different styles as organizations and a different approach to what we all have as the same goal, being federal legislation that at the very least protects states that have chosen to legalize,' said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Alliance, which helped galvanize the WRCBA and also employs the lobbyist in DC." - Marijuana Business Daily

Finding right insurance is key to any marijuana company’s business plan - February 28, 2018

"'Only a small number of carriers underwrite such policies, which can vary in their exclusions, so insurance shoppers need a keen eye when reviewing them,' [WACA Board Vice President Jerry] Derevyanny said. 'Your property coverages are where you’re going to start to see some differences,' he said, 'and the product liability can vary as well, depending on what your business is.'" - Marijuana Business Daily

New Medical Access Fund for Cannabis Patients Wins Federal Approval - February 22, 2018

"Today the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) updated the public on its efforts to create a new non-profit to help qualified patients defray the costs of medical cannabis products. The effort, first announced in December 2016, has achieved a key milestone in securing 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. This will allow contributors to make tax-deductible donations to the program, analogous with non-profit community programs in other health care sectors that provide prescription drug price relief." - Press Release (.PDF)

Still mellow but ready to fight. That’s the state of Washington’s pot industry - January 19, 2018

"As [WACA member] Evergreen Herbal works to grow, the company and others in the industry take a keen interest in whether the state and federal governments work together or continue on separate tracks after Sessions’ January salvo.Clay Hill of the Association of Washington Business spoke Jan. 16 at a committee hearing in Olympia in support of HB 2124, the state pot industry protection measure. He noted if that industry’s revenue stream to the state is threatened, 'then we think there would be an increased risk of further taxes, new taxes, higher taxes on Washington businesses. We’re sort of reliant on this revenue now and it doesn’t make sense to have federal policy potentially undermining our state’s fiscal position.'

A similar message was sent at the same time to Washington, D.C., by the Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance, which seeks legislative protection from Congress. The marijuana business group wants lawmakers to include language in an appropriations bill to prohibit the Justice Department from spending money to thwart marijuana businesses in states where it is legal. The alliance represents marijuana businesses in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Arizona.

"Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, emphasized the depth of the industry and how far it has come in the state since legalization. 'In addition to the excise tax ... we now know that we have we have over 10,000 jobs in the state of Washington through this industry,' she said at the hearing. 'These are your friends, they are your neighbors, they are your constituents, and they’ve invested their lives into fulfilling the will of the voters.'” - Tacoma News-Tribune

KIRO 7's Essex Porter interviews WACA member Andy Brassington on state bill to protect Washington marketplace from federal intervention. WACA executive director also featured - January 16, 2018 

[clip no longer available]

Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance Launches to Advocate on behalf of Legal Cannabis State Marketplaces - January 16, 2018

“We are honored to join our industry peers in other regulated states’ regulated cannabis industries as we continue to advocate on behalf of Washington’s legal marketplace,” said Jim Mullen, Washington CannaBusiness Board President. “As a member of the Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance, we will work to support cannabis laws, regulations and policies at the regional- and federal-levels of government that uphold the safety, viability and quality of legal state cannabis marketplaces. We look forward to our members continuing to invest in legal marketplaces created by overwhelming public approval, helping to create tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in state tax revenue.” - Press Release (.PDF)

Bipartisan support to protect safer state legal cannabis marketplaces - January 8, 2018

Bob Keating of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation interviews Aaron Pickus, WACA spokesperson, on bipartisan reaction to AG Sessions rescinding of the Cole Memorandum. - (AUDIO FILE)

Pot industry to Sessions: Really? Calm (mostly) prevails after federal storm - January 5, 2018

"Session’s action is 'truly disappointing, and it ignores the facts of the vibrant, healthy, legal cannabis industry,' [WACA member] Andy Brassington, CFO of Seattle’s Evergreen Herbal, one of the largest processors in the state and whose products can be found in Tacoma shops, told The News Tribune. 'The action also flies in the face of what the American public wants when now more than 60 percent have access to legal product in this country.'" - Tacoma News-Tribune

‘An attack on Seattle’: Washington state officials say they won’t back down on legal pot as Sessions rescinds Obama-era policy. Legal Cannabis Industry Responds to AG Sessions - January 4, 2018

“'We will be working closely with our state and federal regulators to determine impacts, if any, to banking the cannabis industry by this recent news. Until then we continue to serve our members’ banking needs,' President and CEO [and WACA boardmember] Russ Rosendal said.

'As far as we’re concerned, it’s biz as usual,' said Andy Brassington, CFO of Evergreen Herbal, a Seattle pot processor. Brassington was part of a Washington CannaBusiness Association delegation that visited lawmakers in Washington, D.C. last year. Brassington noted that a Gallup poll last fall showed 64 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana, a record-high support for the drug.

'It’s just puzzling he would take the position,' Brassington said, referring to Sessions. 'We have a healthy, robust, legal marketplace functioning very well. It’s the will of the people.'” - Seattle Times

Legal Cannabis Industry Responds to AG Sessions - January 4, 2018

“Washington state voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of a legal marketplace in 2012,” said Andy Brassington, Chief Financial Officer for licensed processor Evergreen Herbal in Seattle. “The reality is that individual states across the country have given voters the choice on marijuana and the momentum toward increased legalization is escalating. The result is a highly-regulated, voter-approved marketplace that is delivering economic benefits to state coffers in the hundreds of millions and innovation in the industry benefiting medical patients and non-patient alike. It is unfortunate that Attorney General Sessions would attempt to supersede state’s rights, ignoring public opinion, and the values of many who would protect individual liberties. Legal cannabis is by far safer and superior to allowing black markets to flourish, supporting public safety in our communities and significant tax revenue for our state’s schools, roads and other important priorities.” - Press Release (.PDF)

Cannabis Industry Shares 2018 Legislative, Regulatory Agendas - December 20, 2017

“'We are committed to collaborative conversations with our regulators, lawmakers and policymakers to support a safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace that keeps marijuana out of the hands of minors,' said WACA Board President Jim Mullen. 'Working in concert with leadership in Olympia, our industry has come a long way since voters first approved the legal marketplace in 2012.'”

Click here to view WACA's 2018 Legislative Agenda.

Click here to view WACA's 2018 Regulatory Agenda.

Why It’s Getting Easier for Marijuana Companies to Open Bank Accounts - December 6, 2017

"[WACA Boardmember] John Branch, a Seattle-based lawyer who owns a dispensary, says that fees are typically reasonable for small businesses like his. The fees he pays as a credit union member are in the hundreds of dollars, he said. 'In the scheme of what it costs to run a marijuana business, it’s de minimis.'"

Agency lays out the pros, cons of legalizing home marijuana - December 1, 2017

"'We supported the state doing the study, but our members do not support home grows at this time,' said Aaron Pickus, spokesman for [WACA] whose 70 members include marijuana retailers, processors and growers. 'This is not the time to be loosening regulations while we have a hostile administration in Washington, D.C.'" - Everett Herald

Sticker shock coming with California’s new pot market - November 6, 2017

"'While our members, like any other business sector, would like to see a lower tax rate, we have not seen any evidence that current tax rate is diverting people into the black market,'" Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, an industry group, said in an email." - Associated Press

Rough Road Ahead - November 1, 2017

"[WACA board member and Tier 3 producer/processor Jerry Derevyanny] owes part of his state’s success to the Washington CannaBusiness Association. He recommends that California businesses utilize a well-organized coalition trade group to work with the regulators as well. But use tact when attending any meeting of government officials or regulators. 'Without being vitriolic about it, you come in and lay out what the problem is, what you think a reasonable solution is, that addresses their concerns,' Derevyanny said. 'Don’t come in like you’re going to war. Come in like you’re working together.'" - Marijuana Business Magazine

Washington CannaBusiness Association Celebrates Evergreen Herbal Leadership in Marketplace- October 23, 2017

"Today the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) applauded the selection of Evergreen Herbal, WACA member, on the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies List in 2017. Evergreen Herbal, an I-502 licensed processor, is based in Seattle and is the only business operating in the legal cannabis marketplace to have earned a spot on this year’s list, ranking as #27 on the annual list." - Press Release (.PDF)

State Debates Future of Growing Weed at Home - October 5, 2017

"Representatives from Numerica Credit Union and Salal Credit Union, two credit unions that are actively banking with the licensed cannabis businesses in Washington, testified against allowing any recreational home grows at all. 'Opening the system to an unlimited amount of potential growers, even if the state’s traceability system is used, increases the potential for minors to obtain cannabis,' said Russell Rosendal, the CEO of Salal Credit Union [and WACA board member]. 'It would certainly make us rethink our ability to service the system if the Cole Memo is revoked.' The Washington CannaBusiness Association, a trade group of licensed cannabis businesses, is also opposed to allowing any recreational home grows. Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the trade group’s members have not been supportive of recommending home grows out of fear of provoking a response from the Trump Administration." - The Stranger

Should Washingtonians be allowed to grow recreational pot at home? State wants you to weigh in - September 27, 2017

"'Our members are very concerned about the possibility of loosening regulations to allow the general public to grow cannabis at home,' Aaron Pickus said. Pickus is speaking for The Washington CannaBusiness Association, which represents about 70 marijuana companies. The groups says they are more worried about the feds than any financial impact to the industry. 'Being cautious of what the federal government might do with the current administration that is very skeptical of legal marketplaces,' Pickus said." - Q13 News

State should proceed cautiously with expanding marijuana grows - September 22, 2017

"To this point, allowing grows for recreational purposes has garnered resistance from organizations such as the Washington CannaBusiness Association and Association of Washington Cities. Unless there is an overriding reason to expand grow operations, Washington would be prudent to take it very slow, particularly given this U.S. Justice Department’s views on recreational marijuana." - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial

Study considers making it legal to grow marijuana at home - September 19, 2017

"'We’re still a very, very young industry. Our priority is supporting the success of the current regulatory framework,' said Aaron Pickus, spokesman for the cannabis group whose 70 members include marijuana retailers, processors and growers. 'Generally speaking, we are erring on the side of implementing what already exists before we open it up further.' Candice Bock, government relations advocate for AWC, said it is a difficult law for cities to enforce. And they are concerned legal home grows can still be a source of conflict among neighbors. 'We take a very cautious approach to home grows and I don’t know that we will be able to support a recreational home grow operation.'" - Everett Herald

Small Pot Farms Are Getting Screwed: The State Made Rules to Help Boutique Growers - But They're Not Working - August, 23, 2017

"To [Vashon Velvet owner and WACA board member Susie] Gress, it shouldn't matter how much total weight she is producing. State regulations allow boutique breweries and wineries to turn a profit even when they are producing a tiny fraction of what large companies produce. Will Washington's legal marketplace be able to support tiny producers like her? That question is still up in the air." - The Stranger

Governor Inslee and Attorney General Ferguson respond to Attorney General Sessions - August 15, 2017

"The State of Washington remains committed to only allowing marijuana activity within a tightly and actively regulated system that complements the federal government’s law enforcement priorities. Like the Department of Justice, we want to discourage youth consumption, avoid dangers to public safety, and prevent the diversion of marijuana to other states." - Letter (.PDF).

Regulated Cannabis Industry Is Working - August 4, 2017

Washington CannaBusiness Association's statement from board member and retail license-holder Jim Mullen regarding the recent communication between Washington State elected officials and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. - Press Release (.PDF)

Washington's Legal Weed Industry Pays Hundreds of Millions in Wages - August 2, 2017

--Click here for the full report-- 

"The report, conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), found that more than 10,000 people were employed by legal weed businesses in 2016, and legal pot businesses paid almost $300 million in wages during the industry's first two and a half years."

"...the Washington CannaBusiness Association (a trade group of licensed pot businesses), explained that the report showed that legal weed is 'clearly already a major economic force in Washington. Our hope is that this employment report will help demonstrate that our industry is a viable, safe, and well-regulated component of our state's diverse economy.'" - The Stranger

In Our View: Time to Act on Marijuana - July 25, 2017

"Members of Congress should seek to protect industries in states that allow marijuana use and to avoid a costly and counterproductive legal battle between those states and the federal government." - The Columbian, Editorial

Cannabis regulations contribute to thriving market in Washington - June 30, 2017

"It is fitting that the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) — the regulated industry’s professional association of cannabis producers, processors and retailers — is helping lead our state’s delegation to Washington, D.C. this month, five years after the passage of Initiative 502." - Puget Sound Business Journal, Guest Column by WACA member Andy Brassington

New Washington state cannabis regulations reflect concern about federal threat - June 29, 2017

"Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, didn’t want to overstate the regulators’ focus on protecting the state’s marijuana industry. But he conceded 'there was certainly a change in concern about what the federal government may or may not do regarding the legal cannabis marketplace following the comments made by (the Trump administration).'" - Marijuana Business Daily

Cannabis industry thanks elected leaders for protecting marketplace - April 24, 2017

Cannabis industry thanks elected leaders for protecting marketplace - Press Release (.PDF)

The Credit Unions and Small Banks That Solved the Cannabis Cash Crisis - April 19, 2017

"Canceled accounts would cause a nightmare for every business in legal weed, especially the bigger players in the game, like Northwest Cannabis Solutions, the largest producer and processor of weed in the state by sales. [WACA Boardmember] Jerry Derevyanny, one of the company's executives, said running the enterprise—which has sold $30 million of weed products since it opened in 2014, according to—as an all-cash business would pose many challenges. 'It would be an operational challenge, and it would be a huge setback for us. We have more than 190 full-time employees,' Derevyanny said. 'Doing an all-cash payroll for 190 people is just a little bit crazy, and I really hope it doesn't come to that.'" - The Stranger

Trump Signals That He Wants to Restart the War on Drugs - March 8, 2017

"Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said the trade group is advising its members to closely follow the state's laws. 'Right now, we are emphasizing how important it is to make sure you are following the rules as set by Washington State,' Pickus said. 'Make sure you are dotting all your i's and crossing all your t's and following best practices to make sure that minors aren't getting into your store.'" - The Stranger

Battle Over Legal Pot - February 24, 2017

KIRO's Senior Political Reporter Essex Porter interviews WACA board member and Ponder retail license holder John Branch - KIRO 7


White House suggests enforcing federal marijuana laws - February 23, 2017

"[Washington Attorney General] Ferguson, who also led the states in challenging Trump's executive order on immigration, noted that he and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats, previously were prepared to defend the state's legal marijuana system against any efforts by President Barack Obama's administration to shut it down. Ferguson and Inslee sent a letter last week to new Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request a meeting on the topic. [WACA board member] John Branch owns Ponder near Union and 24th Avenue in Seattle. He's been selling marijuana there since September 2015. 'I think undoing the will of the people of Washington state would be a big lift,' said Branch." - KING 5 (NBC)

Regulated Cannabis Industry Responds to White House Comments on Federal Marijuana Policy - February 23, 2017

“Washington state voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing a safe, quality-controlled and fully regulated cannabis marketplace. Our members accept and are committed to rigorous enforcement and compliance with state law which goes hand-in-hand with safe communities and a successful marketplace. We recognize that not everyone is convinced that cannabis should be legal. We look forward to continuing our state's leadership as an example of how licensed, regulated cannabis businesses are responsible members of Washington's business community that bring value to state and local economies.” - Official Statement (.PDF)

Gold Leaf Farm: The Closest Thing You Can Find to Organic Weed in Seattle - February 22, 2017

"[WACA board member] Brad Douglass, the scientific director for Bellevue's Werc Shop cannabis lab and a proponent of organic cannabis, said Clean Green certification is a good first step for the industry. 'I think what they're doing is good and useful, but it isn't a stand-in for a state regulated or even a federally regulated program,' Douglass said. 'It doesn't have the teeth that a state-regulated program would have.'" - The Stranger

Vashon Velvet Grows on Island Time - February 20, 2017

"While the passage of I-502 greenlit million-dollar investments into major production facilities throughout the state, it also opened doors for scrappy upstarts like Vashon Velvet—the company [WACA board member Susie] Gress founded in 2013 with her daughter, Ivy, and sister, Kay Rice." - Seattle Metropolitan

For Washington’s pot industry, out-of-state owners could supply a lifeline — or invite trouble - February 7, 2017

"[WACA Boardmember] Susan Gress owns a small pot farm on Vashon Island. She sees the out-of-state ownership bills in the state Legislature, with bipartisan sponsors, as a lifeline, a way for her business to grow and survive. 'The funds we could use to create more jobs and tax income for our state instead will go to states like Colorado and California,' said Gress, a former editor at Pulp & Paper International magazine. At a recent hearing in Olympia she told lawmakers that out-of-state investors have approached her but want a stake in her farm that state law now prohibits." - Seattle Times

Washington State Could Be (and Should Be) the Capital of Pot Research - February 1, 2017

"'On our end, we thought the research license was a critical component of the promise of I-502 [the law that legalized recreational use in Washington State]—a regulated market of safe products that were developed with better quality than what was available in the medical market,' said [WACA Boardmember] Brad Douglass, the scientific director at Bellevue cannabis lab the Werc Shop." - The Stranger

City Inside/Out: Marijuana Lounges - January 27, 2017

Vicki Christophersen, Washington CannaBusiness Executive Director, is featured on 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.

Marijuana world: Maybe Attorney General Jeff Sessions won't be so bad - January 17, 2017

[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." - KUOW

Washington CannaBusiness Association Shares 2017 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda - January 17, 2017

WACA priorities focus on increasing capacity for state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board, supporting new business practices for legal marketplace. - Press Release (.PDF)

Private Washington state fund to boost medical cannabis access - December 8, 2016

"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." - Marijuana Business Daily

Can’t pay for your medical marijuana? A new fund might help - December 6, 2016

"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." - Tacoma News-Tribune

Washington CannaBusiness Association to Launch New Fund for Patient Access - December 6, 2016

WACA also announces Code of Conduct for members establishing association commitments to safety, citizenship and to be good neighbors - Press Release (.PDF)

-- FULL TEXT: Code of Conduct --

The State Wants More Accurate THC Ratings on Pot, But May Be Missing the Main Culprit - December 5, 2016

"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.'" - Seattle Weekly

What's next for weed? - November 30, 2016

"As the industry becomes more established, more of what [WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen] hears from business owners has less to do with its unique aspects and more to do with everyday business questions — issues such as finance or human resources. They want to work, and they want the industry to work, she said. 'They are very supportive of and really want to be part of a fully regulated, safe industry that keeps its product away from children, that competes with the black market and provides revenue to the state,' she said. 'They’re committed to that.'" - The Columbian

Move over, booze: 2016 is a milestone year for sales of pot in state - November 18, 2016

"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.'" - Tacoma News-Tribune

Lessons in legalization: Washington’s slick pot industry booming - September 30, 2016

"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." - San Francisco Chronicle

WACA member The Goodship Company and board member Vashon Velvet featured in latest Munchies, produced by Vice - August 30, 2016

"The Dankest Cannabis Cupcakes in Washington: Bong Appetit with Cupcake Royale"


Using marijuana just got a whole lot safer - August 8, 2016

"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." - Editorial by WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen published in The Tacoma News-Tribune

Cannabis growers look for clarity on pesticide use - July 6, 2016

"'From the growers’ perspective, they want their products to be safe,' Christophersen said. But in order to ensure safety, they need clear guidelines about what they can use, and how much, she said." - Agri-Pulse (.PDF)

Washington flips the switch on a new medical marijuana system – June 30, 2016

“‘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." – The Spokesman-Review

WACA Executive Director Vicki Christophersen speaks with KOMO on July 1 expansion of regulated marketplace – June 27, 2016 

“For the first time, all consumers and patients will be protected by the requirements of the law, including product testing and regulatory compliance.” – Audio File

Washington To Take Major Step in Supporting Legal Marijuana – June 27, 2016

WACA, representing licensed marijuana industry, led efforts to support expansion of regulated marketplace – Press Release (.PDF)

Cities, Counties Want Fine-Tuned Rules For Legal Pot Shops And Grow Ops – May 31, 2016

“‘We have to remember where society is,’ [Washington CannaBusiness Executive Director Vicki Christophersen] said. ‘We have to be thoughtful, disciplined and slow in the development of this (industry).’ – The Lens

Washington Takes Action On Pot Pesticide Policy – May 19, 2016

Washington CannaBusiness Association applauds State for adopting action levels for pesticide detection and safety, a key policy priority for the industry association – Press Release (.PDF)

Weed-Like Growth for Washington’s Cannabis Industry – April 26, 2016

“[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.” – The Lens

Washington CannaBusiness Association Celebrates Productive 2016 Legislative Session – April 5, 2016

WACA successfully led on the only industry-supported bills to pass in 2016 Session – Press Release (.PDF)

Regulated Cannabis Industry Engages In Steps Toward Pesticide Enforcement – March 22, 2016

WACA calls for specific pesticide regulations to protect public safety, establish action thresholds for product recall and public notice – Press Release (.PDF)

Washington CannaBusiness Association supports legislation that protects safety, privacy of regulated license holders – January 12, 2016

Support for SB 6207, a bill to protect the safety and privacy of individuals applying for or holding an I-502 license issued by the Liquor and Cannabis Board – Press Release (.PDF)

SB 6207 status and bill text

Increase in retail licenses positive step for regulated cannabis marketplace – December 16, 2015

Additional certainty for 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 – Press Release (.PDF)

State compliance checks enforce safe marketplace – July 17, 2015

Washington CannaBusiness Association fully supports compliance for a safe, quality-controlled marketplace – Press Release (.PDF)

Licensed cannabis industry applauds Seattle enforcement legislation – July 13, 2015

Local action and enforcement are critical to supporting state laws for a safe, quality-controlled and regulated cannabis marketplace – Press Release (.PDF)

Regulated cannabis industry applauds King County enforcement actions – July 8, 2015

Statement supporting decisive enforcement actions taken by King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Sheriff John Urquhart – Press Release (.PDF)

Regulated cannabis industry applauds new streamlined tax structure – July 1, 2015

Washington CannaBusiness Association celebrates achieving all key priorities in 2015 Legislative Session – Press Release (.PDF)

Licensed marijuana business owners testify at Seattle council hearing – June 10, 2015

Washington CannaBusiness Association members look forward to local enforcement to support regulated marketplace – Press Release (.PDF)

Pierce County’s ban on licensed pot shops serves only scofflaws – June 4, 2015

“Unless the Pierce County Council lifts its ban on legal marijuana shops, would-be marijuana sellers trying to play by the state’s rules will remain out of luck. And traffickers who flout the rules will continue to flourish.” – Tacoma News Tribune editorial

Regulated cannabis industry voices support for compliance checks – May 20, 2015

Washington CannaBusiness Association fully supports compliance for a safe, quality-controlled marketplace – Press Release (.PDF)

Governor signs law to protect patients, regulate a safe cannabis marketplace – April 24, 2015

Cannabis businesses applaud Governor’s support for Cannabis Patient Protection Act, look forward to a safe, quality-controlled and regulated marketplace – Press Release (.PDF)

Cannabis Patient Protection Act approved by Senate, heading to Governor’s Desk – April 14, 2015

Bipartisan 41-8 Senate vote builds momentum to support a safe, quality-controlled and regulated marketplace for cannabis in Washington State – Press Release (.PDF)

State House overwhelming votes to pass Cannabis Patient Protection Act – April 10, 2015

Bipartisan 60-36 vote builds momentum to support a safe, quality-controlled and regulated marketplace for cannabis in Washington State – Press Release (.PDF)

Critical updates needed in state marijuana laws – March 27, 2015

“Marijuana legalization is one of the biggest shifts in public policy in decades. Washington is a leader. Lawmakers need to act to make sure it doesn’t die on the vine.” – Seattle Times editorial

WACA Member Angela Jayo appears on Inside Olympia – March 26, 2015


WACA Member Tera Martin appears on the BBC to discuss challenges facing the regulated marketplace – March 10, 2015


House Health Care and Wellness Committee Public Hearing – March 5, 2015

Licensed business owners urge lawmakers to endorse a single system that supports safety, quality-control and competition for entire cannabis marketplace – Press Release (PDF)

A second chance to get medical marijuana right – February 20, 2015

“It should be obvious that Washington is not hurting for lack of marijuana. Right now, the Legislature’s priority should be regulating it and keeping it away from minors — which means driving a stake into the heart of the illegal dispensary industry before it metastasizes further.” – Tacoma News Tribune editorial

Cannabis Patient Protection Act passes Senate – February 16, 2015

Overwhelming Senate support for Cannabis Patient Protection Act, bill advances to House – Press Release (.PDF)

Legislative Day – February 3, 2015

I-502 Licensed Businesses Align Behind Cannabis Patient Protection Act – Press Release (.PDF)

Senate Health Care Committee Public Hearing – January 22, 2015

Public Safety, Quality Control and Tax Fairness At Stake for Legalized Cannabis – Press Release (.PDF)

Senate Health Care Committee Public Testimony – Full video (Link to TVW)

The following links feature testimony from WACA members:

  • 1:25:37 – Vicki Christophersen (WACA Executive Director), Eric Cooper (Monkey Grass Farms), Michelle Grogan (Green America)
  • 1:46:00 – Ian Eisenberg (Uncle Ike’s), John Branch (Mello Times), Angela Jayo (Green America)

Cannabis Patient Protection Act – January 7, 2015

Rivers, Hatfield introduce Cannabis Patient Protection Act - Press Release (.PDF)

Professional Association of Licensed Cannabis Businesses Endorses Cannabis Patient Protection Act – Press Release (.PDF)

WACA Media Kit for 2015 Legislative Session – December 4, 2014

An open letter from our executive director, Vicki Christophersen (.PDF)

About Us

What We Stand For (.PDF)

Public Welfare Regulations (.PDF)

Marijuana Poisoning Incidents Spike in Washington State, Reuters (.PDF) — Published November 18, 2014

Washington CannaBusiness Association

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