NWPPR: Fixing the cannabis marketplace

The Northwest Producers, Processors and Retailers Association (NWPPR) contacted me recently to talk about how they want to fix problems in Washington’s marijuana markets (both medical and recreational).

The Seattle-based group supports SB5052, the bill that would merge recreational and medical marijuana into one structure.

NWPPR Executive Director Amber Lewis said she knows the bill isn’t perfect, but that she thinks its the best plan on the table for moving forward.


Whether you support the bill or not (a lot of medical marijuana folks are concerned with it) there are several problems with I502 that desperately need fixing, and SB5052 does address some of them.

The tax situation in I502 makes it extremely difficult for recreational businesses to fight the black market. Banking issues continue to plague many stores and growers. And consumer issues like the ban on smoking lounges, high prices and being able to legally pass a joint to somebody on private property remain.

SB5052 doesn’t deal with all of those issues, although it does address some of the pricing and black market concerns. (There are other bills in the Legislature right now that deal with taxes and a host of other topics).

On the medical side, the largely unregulated market can create issues for seriously ill patients concerned with safe access to tested products. Because of the lack of structure, that market has also become a front for some black market sales operations, and it can be difficult for patients to tell the difference. SB5052 is one attempt to deal with that.

Her guest post is below. Give it a read and let us know what you think.

-SueVo (sue.vorenberg@columbian.com)

(A commenter mentioned SB 2136 – you can read the text of that bill here: Substitute House Bill 2136)

Toward a safe, stable and reliable cannabis industry in Washington

By Amber Lewis
Executive Director, Northwest Producers, Processors and Retailers

(Amber Lewis, NWPPA)
(Amber Lewis, NWPPA)

It’s been less than a year since the legal commercial marketplace for marijuana created by Initiative 502 has been in effect. It’s no secret that significant problems have emerged already.

Commercial shops are not thriving, largely stifled by I502’s overly-broad regulation and excessive taxation. Medical dispensaries lack clear regulations, which fraudulent operators widely exploit. And the black market, all the while, is booming like never before.

The challenge facing the Legislature and the cannabis industry is one that can no longer wait to be fixed.

There are many groups and individuals representing cannabis in Washington, but the approach of the Northwest Producers, Processors and Retailers is unique.

Our board is comprised of patients, patient advocates, parents of patients, recreational producers, processors and retailers, medical producers and processors, medical cannabis access points, attorneys, accountants, cannabis testing facilities and many more.

This group of diverse leaders supports the creation a safe, stable and reliable cannabis industry in Washington. While there are plenty within our industry who oppose any government oversight and regulation, the NWPPR is working with state legislators and policymakers on workable, common-sense solutions.

These include:

• A path for medical cannabis producers and processors who are meeting the true needs of patients to transition into a regulated marketplace;

• A merit-based application for collective garden operators and medical cannabis dispensaries to move forward in the regulated industry to continue to serve patients;

• Preservation of safe access for patients, including privacy protections, and a standards for medical grade cannabis;

• A stable, thriving recreational market with a competitive tax structure;

• Allowances to permit our Washington universities to further conduct studies and research to help identify the benefits of cannabis;

• Development of adequate and legal banking options; and

• Pre-emption of local bans on cannabis, as seen presently in unincorporated Clark County.

We applaud lawmakers who are committed to developing a new regulatory framework that is better suited to solving our existing challenges and can protect patients, stabilize the recreational market and diminish the leverage of the black market.

Senate Bill 5052, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, represents great progress and is our best path forward.

While the bill is not perfect, few bills ever are. This is the beginning of the journey and NWPPR is committed to being here for the long haul, representing the view and concerns of our members, protecting patients, stabilizing businesses, and creating a sound regulatory structure for all.


NWPPR is a cannabis trade association meeting the needs of the cannabis industry throughout the Pacific Northwest. Led by industry experts and supported by government and public affairs specialists, NWPPR is leading the way in creating a unified cannabis industry.