The Liquor Control Board will have two new faces next year as current LCB members depart.
Chris Marr, a former state senator from Spokane, said he’ll leave the board Jan. 1 to become a lobbyist for GroupHealth. “I like being involved in juicy (policy) areas,” he said.
Sharon Foster, who’s been on the board for six years, said she won’t seek another term.
Governor Inslee’s communications director, David Postman, said the governor’s office knew both board members planned to leave and has been quietly recruiting candidates. Postman said the office didn’t have a set timeline to replace Foster and Marr, but hoped they would fill the positions before they left. There are three members on the board.
“It’s a hard job,” said Postman. “There are a lot of people who are interested in it because it is an exciting industry on the forefront, but we’ve got to make sure we get the right people.”
Appointed almost four years ago, Marr and the rest of the board faced challenges they couldn’t have predicted when they assumed their jobs.
“Little did I know… that marijuana would be legalized and we’d have to build this whole market from scratch,” said Marr.
Marr said he tried to bring a businessman’s perspective to his position at the LCB and said he was proud of the state’s progress in legalizing pot.
“It’s been an undertaking,” said Marr. “It will continue to be a work in progress for a couple years.”
Marr said he hoped he’d be able to help incoming board members take stock of problems facing the marijuana industry. He expressed concerned about an “overhang” of pot production licenses yet to be activated, said prices need to be driven down and thought the LCB ought to help businesses manage federal taxes that are applied on top of state taxation.
Sitting on the LCB board is a part-time job, but Marr said the advent of legal marijuana extended his workload.
“Truthfully, it is more of a full time position,” said Marr. “So, I think you’re going to have to have people committed to more time than they’re paid for… people who love policy.”
Marr said he didn’t have any regrets about his time on the LCB.
“Maybe I should have written more in a diary,” he said. “Now, I get to stay on the sidelines and watch this whole fascinating thing play out.”