The governor of Rhode Island on Wednesday nominated three individuals to a regulatory panel that will oversee the state’s legal marijuana programs.
Gov. Dan McKee, a Democrat, announced his appointments to the Rhode Island Cannabis Control Commission, which “will oversee the regulation, licensing and control of adult use and medical cannabis in the Ocean State,” his office said in a press release.
“I am proud to appoint these three individuals to the commission to ensure Rhode Island’s cannabis industry is both fairly regulated and successful,” McKee said in the announcement. “These nominees bring diverse and relevant experience and I look forward to working with them.”
The three nominees are headlined by Kimberly Ahern, McKee’s pick to serve as chair of the commission and who currently serves as the governor’s deputy chief of staff.
“I am grateful to Governor McKee for his trust in me, and I look forward to the Senate confirmation process. If confirmed, I hope to continue the good work that has already begun in Rhode Island thanks to the leadership of the Department of Business Regulation and the Department of Health for many years. The first six months of adult-use have demonstrated our state’s success in carefully expanding into this new industry. I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners to regulate cannabis in a manner that is safe, transparent and equitable in the years going forward,” Ahern said in the announcement.
The governor’s other two nominees are Robert Jacquard, currently a self-employed attorney, and Layi Oduyingbo, a managing attorney for a law firm in Cranston, Rhode Island.
“I am truly honored to be selected to the Rhode Island Cannabis Control Commission and serve as one of its three voting commissioners,” Oduyingbo said in the announcement. “I thank Governor Dan McKee for my appointment, and I am grateful for everyone who supported my candidacy. As a lifelong Rhode Islander and small business owner, I grasp the significance of this new and exciting opportunity to succeed which is now available to businesses operating in this industry. As a commissioner, I will use my business and legal experience to efficiently oversee the regulation, licensing, and control of cannabis and marijuana use in a manner that is cautious, transparent, equitable, and consistent with the laws of our State.”
The governor will now “send these three names to the Rhode Island Senate for Advice and Consent,” according to his office.
Recreational cannabis sales began in Rhode Island in December after McKee signed a measure legalizing pot for adults aged 21 and older last spring.
“This bill successfully incorporates our priorities of making sure cannabis legalization is equitable, controlled, and safe,” McKee said in a statement at the time. “In addition, it creates a process for the automatic expungement of past cannabis convictions. My Administration’s original legalization plan also included such a provision and I am thrilled that the Assembly recognized the importance of this particular issue. The end result is a win for our state both socially and economically.”
The adult-use cannabis market opened for business late last year after McKee announced that five existing medical cannabis dispensaries had been licensed to sell recreational pot as well.
“This milestone is the result of a carefully executed process to ensure that our state’s entry into this emerging market was done in a safe, controlled and equitable manner,” McKee said in the announcement. “It is also a win for our statewide economy and our strong, locally based cannabis supply chain, which consists of nearly 70 licensed cultivators, processors and manufacturers in addition to our licensed compassion centers. Finally, I thank the leadership of the General Assembly for passing this practical implementation framework in the Rhode Island Cannabis Act and I look forward to continuing our work together on this issue.”