Vicki Christophersen: Introduction to WACA

I recently came across the Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), which has been doing some lobbying up in the Legislature this session.

I asked Vicki Christophersen, the group’s executive director, if she could give Cannabis Chronicles a little post telling us more about the group’s goals and objectives.

(Vicki Christophersen)
(Vicki Christophersen)

(Note: They appear to be in favor of merging the medical and recreational markets in Washington, for those of you that are concerned about that issue. They’re also working on a fix for the tax structure issues that many recreational stores are facing.)

Below is her reply. She said the group will also give us some more detailed information about some of the legislative issues they’re concerned about in the near future.

-SueVo (sue.vorenberg@columbian.com)

By Vicki Christophersen
Washington CannaBusiness Association

The Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA) is the only organization of its kind in Washington state comprised solely of 502-licensed producers, processors and retailers of cannabis.

With members from urban and rural areas across the state, WACA is working to ensure safe, quality-controlled products for all consumers and a single, regulated system for the entire cannabis marketplace.

WACA was formed last year when leaders from within the 502-licensed community were frustrated by the lack of a professional organization to represent their interests with policymakers and in the communities where they were preparing to do business.

It was important to distinguish licensed, highly-regulated business people, who range from mom-and-pop shops to PhDs with expertise in organic and medicinal chemistry, from antiquated “stoner” stereotypes in relation to marijuana.

Today WACA has 38 members and is fully engaged at the legislative level, advocating policies that will further strengthen the safety measures voters intended when they approved Initiative 502 and also to level the playing field for cannabis businesses, who are struggling to compete against the unregulated, illegal market.

Among the challenges facing the burgeoning legal cannabis industry, is the structure of the current tax system.

For small and medium businesses especially, multiple levels of taxation are threatening their survival.

For many, the situation is urgent. In fact, last week WACA members and co-owners Jim Mullen and Richard Zahler of Vancouver’s The Herbery appeared before the House Committee on Finance in Olympia.

Mr. Mullen testified about his experience as a licensed 502 retailer and the challenges of double taxation on license holders. He asked for legislative support for a bill that would make the system rational for regulated businesses.

WACA members have been working diligently to strengthen the system from a safety standpoint for consumers and also to support licensees by ensuring the marketplace is one in which they can compete fairly.

WACA pursues four goals on behalf of our members:

• To meet the expectation of Washington voters and to fulfill the promise of safe, quality-controlled cannabis products for all users in a single, regulated system.

• To acknowledge the momentum toward legalizing marijuana across the U.S. and provide leadership and strong advocacy for a single formalized system on the state level.

• To position Washington State as a leader in the growing movement to legalize marijuana nationwide.

• To engage with our communities, elected leaders, regulators, public health system and law enforcement to collaborate together and shine a light on the responsible, accountable and law-abiding businesses in the legalized marijuana ecosystem.

To learn more, please visit www.wacannabusiness.org