Marijuana agency chief voted out by control board - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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Marijuana agency chief voted out by control board

AT ISSUE: IS CANNABIS REGULATOR MAKING ALASKA OPEN FOR BUSINESS?

Erika McConnell, the executive director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office by the Marijuana Control Board during today’s meeting in Anchorage.

The vote was 3-2, with Board Chairman Mark Springer and Juneau board member Loren Jones voting to retain her, while Bruce Schulte, Nicholas Miller, and Christopher Jaime all voted no confidence.

Last month, the Alcohol Beverage Control Board voted unanimously to release McConnell for performance and character issues. McConnell runs both the alcohol agency and the marijuana office and it took both boards to fire her. It’s unclear the timing of her departure.

At today’s meeting before the discussion of McConnell’s performance, several industry members took aim at the staff of the agency for seeming to prioritize enforcement, but communicating regulations poorly to industry, not putting things in writing but giving out rules verbally, and sitting on permit applications.

Those testifying said that they and others had invested their entire family fortunes and retirements into their enterprises and found dealing with the agency difficult because they feel they are treated as though they are criminals.

Board Chairman Mark Springer disputed that characterization and said the agency is overworked and needs more money from the Dunleavy Administration.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Sayonara.
    The bit about needing more money and being overworked is precious.
    Find someone with skill sets to get the job done and not some political hack with a propensity for pot or booze, for that matter.

  • They are violating Federal Drug Laws, which does make them criminals.

  • McConnell must have given the good bud to Springer and passed along the junky stuff to the other three. The pre-requisite for Board membership is having enough good bud to pass around during breaks. She can now exhale!

    • …….and have a few double shots of Alaska vodka and really enjoy herself at the next First Friday art show. Let your hair down……burp…

      • Alaska cow weed is a cheap knock-off and pot connoiseurs know it when they smell it. So do the Control Board members. They didn’t get their positions because they don’t partake. Nice to know that the regulators can distinguish the good stuff from manure.

  • She was voted out for poor performance. The board’s anti-brewery and distillery rules were designed to keep competition down for bar owners. Doubt much will change though.

  • And how much money is enough? Let me guess: more.

  • Good luck finding a replacement…who wants to inherit that mess?

    As far as funding goes the board needs to deal with that. Funding for the ABCB and MCB is supposed to come from the licensees. If funding is short and staff is insufficient it is incumbent on the board to raise the licensing fees. Same with the board of nursing, real estate, financial planners etc.

    Maybe it’s just easier to take a swipe at the Gov though.

  • The board should support industry growth, not deter it…this is the real reason why McConnell got the boot.
    Good riddance!

    • Industry growth. Now there’s a unique term to keep Alaskans on the high road. Perato optimal cannibus in pluribus. Have another toke, Steve.

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