A settlement agreement with Raymond cannabis processor Unicorn Brands LLC was approved by the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) on Tuesday. The settlement ends a year-long investigation for creating synthetically-derived THC from hemp and distributing it into the state-regulated cannabis market.
“This was an important case about the integrity of the legal cannabis system voters approved 10 years ago and which today flourishes in Washington with a carefully controlled system of production, processing and selling of cannabis to adults,” board chair David Postman wrote in an email sent to all cannabis licensees.
The LCB found Unicorn cooperated with the investigation and ceased using the conversion process after the LCB issued a July 2021 policy statement that made clear deriving THC synthetically from hemp was prohibited under current rules and law. The settlement ensures Unicorn will not resume converting hemp into THC and brings an end to a lengthy and complex investigation.
The LCB thanked the agency’s staff for their hard work in a news release.
The next step for the LCB is eliminating the burgeoning market for Delta 8 products and other synthetically-derived products outside the regulated market.
“These gummies and other edibles are being illegally sold in convenience stores and online in Washington and across the country. We hope the 2023 legislative session will see action to assist in eliminating these illegal sales,” said the LCB in a statement.
On Oct. 12, 2021, Unicorn was issued an administrative violation notice alleging four violations related to its synthesis process: misuse of license, criminal conduct, noncompliant extraction and traceability failure.
Under the settlement, the enforcement and education division has agreed to fully withdraw the alleged criminal conduct charge. Unicorn fully admits to the violations, outside of criminal conduct. Unicorn has also agreed to pay the standard monetary penalties for the three violations, accept forfeiture of the seized products, waive further administrative review and agreed not to use its license to produce further synthetically-produced THC from hemp-based sources unless explicitly authorized under future changes to state law.