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New bill aims to dissolve Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board

(David Ryder/Getty Images)

A new bill proposed by Republican Rep. Drew McEwen looks to completely dissolve Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board.

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“Countless licensees are increasingly becoming frustrated with the lack of assistance and help at the Liquor and Cannabis Board, and that the Liquor and Cannabis Board prefers to penalize its licensees for administrative or technical violations, rather than helping them comply,” the bill reads.

McEwen proposes to dissolve the Liquor and Cannabis Board. In its place would be a governor-appointed director, confirmed by the state Senate. Once that happens, the bill would put money saved by the measure to “ensure the marijuana traceability system is fully functional and operational.”

A new bill from Washington State Rep. Drew McEwen would dissolve the Liquor and Cannabis Board. (Drew McEwen)

In the past, Washington state’s traceability system for the cannabis industry has proved problematic, with many businesses complaining about a lack of transparency concerning data collected by the state.

In February 2018, the system was hacked shortly after it was launched, and many felt as though it was rushed to completion far before it was ready for the public.

A February 2019 report from The Stranger cited a “toxic” culture within the Liquor and Cannabis Board, with a bipartisan group of 10 state lawmakers (including Rep. McEwen) calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to rescind his nomination of Russ Hauge, an agency board member.

A committee meeting with Hauge in late-January saw a series of combative exchanges take place between him and legislators, who later claimed Hauge was “either ignorant of facts, or purposely did not tell the truth.”

McEwen’s bill to dissolve the board was introduced Thursday in the Washington State House of Representatives.

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