As of April 1, statutory authority to regulate the makers of marijuana edibles will be added to the administrative responsibilities of the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), a move that will require these businesses to apply for a special endorsement on their business licenses.
Ultimate regulatory authority for marijuana operations remains with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), but this adjustment in law and rule will allow WSDA to focus on ensuring these operations comply with state sanitary processing requirements.
The endorsement carries an annual fee of $895. WSDA is providing a 30-day grace period for businesses to obtain the MIE (marijuana infused edible) Processor license endorsement. The application for the endorsement must be made through the Department of Revenue Business Licensing Service. Businesses can visit www.bls.dor.wa.gov beginning March 29 to complete the application online.
Since Washington’s recreational marijuana law began in 2012, WSLCB has been responsible for regulating MIE processors. Under an agreement with WSLCB, the WSDA Food Safety Program has been inspecting MIE businesses for sanitation and reporting to WSLCB, which then determined whether to license operations to produce marijuana-infused edibles.
Last year, the Legislature provided for WSLCB to share authority to regulate these businesses with WSDA through its Food Safety Program, which already licenses and inspects most types of food processing facilities in Washington to protect public health from risks in the food supply. WSLCB will continue to license and regulate marijuana processors and MIE firms. WSDA will enforce sanitary standards for MIE facilities in cooperation with WSLCB.
Marijuana processors licensed to make marijuana-infused edibles must now also apply for the MIE Processor license endorsement. The change takes effect April 1, but businesses have until April 30 to obtain the endorsement and pay the fee.
Under the new structure, MIE producing businesses are likely to see an increase in outreach and more frequent inspections, all covered by the additional fee. There are currently 127 businesses in Washington producing marijuana-infused edibles.