On Feb. 21, 2017, Erika McConnell was appointed as the new director of Alaska’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. The position had been vacant since Cynthia Franklin resigned from the position at the beginning of 2017 to become the assistant attorney general in the state’s Consumer Protection Unit.
McConnell has worked for the city of Anchorage for more than 10 years as a land-use specialist and was responsible for the writing of the city’s rules and regulations for the legal marijuana industry.
“Ms. McConnell is an exceptional fit to lead the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office,” said Chris Hladick, Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Commissioner, in a statement. “Her commitment to the consistent application of clear and effective regulations will protect public safety while also facilitating successful alcohol and marijuana industries.”
While Hladick sees McConnell’s experience with marijuana regulations as an asset for the position, former Marijuana Control Board chair Bruce Schulte sees it as a red flag.
“It is a fact that Anchorage has been one of the most difficult communities–really the most difficult community for any of these businesses to get established,” Schulte said to Alaska Public Radio. “And Erika’s been very key in that process, so I hope that we don’t see any more complication extend state-wide like what we’ve seen in Anchorage.”
Sara Chambers will continue to serve as acting director until McConnell officially takes over on March 20.