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State leaders fill regulatory boards that will oversee marijuana legalization
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State leaders fill regulatory boards that will oversee marijuana legalization

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A worker spreads cannabis-infused caramel into molds in a kitchen at the Sira Naturals marijuana cultivation facility in Milford, Massachusetts in 2018.

RICHMOND—Virginia’s upcoming recreational marijuana market will be subject to intense regulation from state officials, namely, a new regulatory board Gov. Ralph Northam filled out Monday.

The Cannabis Control Authority will work to launch Virginia’s new adult-use marijuana market in 2024 and ensure compliance with state rules from there on out. Northam on Monday named five people to the authority’s board of directors, which has legal power over the agency:

Neil Amin of Henrico, the CEO of hotel operator Shamin Hotels, will serve as the chair of the board. Shamin Hotels owns and operates more than 60 hotels across six states and is based in Richmond. Amin previously worked for Goldman Sachs, and has served on the Virginia Treasury Board, Virginia Small Business Financing Authority, and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates. (Shamin Hotels owns the building within which the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s downtown offices are located.)

Michael Jerome Massie, a lawyer from Portsmouth, will be the vice chair of the board. Massie is a trial lawyer with his own practice, and previously worked as a prosecutor for the city of Portsmouth.

Bette Brand of Roanoke, a former official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will serve on the board. Brand is the CEO of Strategic Consulting LLC in Roanoke. Before that, Brand worked as deputy under secretary for rural development, administrator of rural business cooperative services and acting administrator of rural utility services at the USDA.

Rasheeda N. Creighton of Richmond, the co-founder of The Jackson Ward Collective, a business incubator focused on Black-owned businesses, will serve as a member. Creighton was previously the executive director of Capital One’s 1717 Innovation Center, a collaborative workplace in Richmond.

Shane Emmett of Midlothian, the co-founder and former CEO of Health Warrior, a Richmond-based energy-bar maker acquired by PepsiCo in 2018, will serve as a member. Emmett is an adviser to venture and private equity firms, and entrepreneur in residence at the University of Richmond. Emmett previously served as an attorney in the Office of the Counselor to Governor Tim Kaine.

The board will work alongside the CEO of the new Cannabis Control Authority, who will be selected by Gov. Ralph Northam in the coming weeks.

Two other boards will play a key role in Virginia’s plan legalize marijuana. The Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board will be tasked with doling out 30% of tax revenues from cannabis sales to communities that faced disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws, specifically, Black people, families and communities in the state.

Northam named five people to the 20-person board Monday. They will join eight people who will be appointed by the General Assembly and seven state officials who will serve on the board in their capacities.

Northam’s appointments to the board are: Jorge Figueredo of Falls Church, the executive director of Edu-Futuro, a nonprofit focused on young immigrants; Amari Harris of Richmond, an attorney with the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission; W. Anthony West of Roanoke, COO for the Virginia Community Action Re-Entry System; Sheba Williams of Richmond, executive director of Nolef Turns Inc., a nonprofit focused on people who have recently left prison; and Vickie R. Williams-Cullins of Hampton, executive director of OPN-Door Communications LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on effective communication.

Northam also made appointments to the new Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board, a 21-person board that will study the impacts of marijuana legalization on public health. The board will issue binding guidance to the Cannabis Control Authority on regulations related to public health.

Northam named Ngiste Abebe of Richmond, a lobbyist with medical cannabis company Columbia Care; Larry Keen II of Petersburg, a psychology professor at Virginia State University; Cynthia Morrow of Roanoke, the health director at the Roanoke City and Alleghany health districts; and Marcus Treiber of Leesburg, the CEO of EMT Holdings LLC, a veteran-owned contractor.

The General Assembly will name 10 other people to this board. The members will work alongside seven state officials who will also serve on the board, including the secretary of health and human resources, Dan Carey.

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