This story was supposed to be about the fact that Washington state’s first food truck, that sells cannabis infused food, is opening for business this weekend.
“The truck is going to start with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with banana on top. We have an open-faced turkey sandwich,” says Garyn Angel, founder of Magical Butter, the company behind The Sammich Truck.
He was planning to operate at a Cannabis farmer’s market in Black Diamond this Saturday and Sunday.
“At the facility we’re at, everybody that will be in attendance is a medical marijuana patient. They need to bring their medical marijuana documentation with them. We’re not on an open street doing this.”
I interviewed Garyn, in studio Thursday night, but Friday afternoon I was told the truck would not be opening for business. Lila York, Magical Operations Manager said:
“Basically, we’ve been advised by law enforcement and the Washington State Department of Health to refrain from selling cannabis-infused products because there’s a conflict between the [Liquor Control Board] and the Department of Health and the legalities of selling the products that the health department considers to be illegally adultured.”
What does that mean? Lila referred me to Steve Sarich, executive director of the Cannabis Action Coalition and the guy who headed the “No on 502” campaign. Steve says he went to the Snohomish County Department of Health on Wednesday to help get a license for The Sammich Truck and was told that it’s illegal to sell medibles, or food with pot in it, in Washington state because it is “adulterated.”
“It’s a Federal Food and Drug Administration statute, it’s section 402. We can’t find anything in there that refers to marijuana. It refers to poisonous substances. We’ve asked them, ‘What in there actually refers to cannabis?’ So, when we hear back from them we’ll know better how to proceed.”
But here’s the thing, apparently no one from the Liquor Control Board, the agency that oversees regulations for cannabis and plans to sanction the opening of marijuana retail stores on July 8th, knew about this.
“Apparently they must not have checked with the Department of Health,” Steve says. “I don’t know why, they’ve had two years to do that. According to what the Department of Health has told us, and they’ve acknowledged that there’s a conflict here, the recreational stores, under this statute, will not be able to sell marijuana-infused products.”
Last Friday we learned that edibles, like marijuana-infused cookies and brownies, wouldn’t appear on store shelves by July 8th because none of the processors had passed inspection yet.
“The State Department of Agriculture, our role is to inspect these marijuana-infused edibles processing facilities,” says spokesman Hector Castro. “To date, we have processed two facilities. We still don’t have a facility in our state that’s licensed to produce marijuana-infused edibles.”
But the idea was that after people start passing inspections, the edibles will eventually be available. Now, with this new information from the Department of Health, it could remain indefinitely illegal.
“I’m not quite sure what they will have to do,” Steve ponders. “I would imagine they will have to have administrative hearings to try to either alter the administrative code at the Department of Health or just simply not be allowed to sell edibles.”
Steve says there are other legal problems to consider with the medibles.
“I spoke yesterday, at length, with commander Pat Slack of the Snohomish County Drug Task Force and he pointed out that if you sell a half pound of medicated sandwich, that he doesn’t care what the Liquor Control Board says, that’s the same as a half a pound of pot. He says, we’ll just weigh the whole sandwich. Even if it has a half a gram of marijuana in it, it will still be considered a half a pound. So if you had a whole truck full of these sandwiches, you could be charged with, maybe, 200 pounds of marijuana rather than two ounces.”
The unfortunate thing is some people have moved here from out of state just to sell medibles.
“In order to get a license they would have had to put in a commercial kitchen. So they would have had to make a substantial investment only to find out now that they can’t operate. It looks like this will just be adding to the pile of lawsuits that the liquor control board will be facing.”
Calls to the Snohomish County Department of Health and the Liquor Control board were not returned by the time this story aired.