Three Roanoke residents among Gov. Northam’s appointees to cannabis oversight boards

Roanoke Valley News

FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2019, file photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. The Justice Department is moving forward to expand the number of marijuana growers for federally-authorized cannabis research. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On Monday morning, Gov. Ralph Northam announced his appointments — including three from Roanoke — to the three newly-created boards responsible for overseeing the Commonwealth’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

This comes after Virginia became the first Southern state to pass adult-use cannabis legislation, with changes that went into effect on July 1.

The new law legalizes simple possession and home cultivation for adults 21 and over; seals some marijuana-related records; and creates a new independent state entity, the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA), to regulate the cannabis market.

In the coming years, the General Assembly must reenact sections of the bill and the CCA must implement regulations before legal sales of cannabis can begin.

“Virginia is committed to legalizing cannabis the right way—by learning from other states, by listening to public health and safety experts, and by centering social equity,” said Northam. “There is a tremendous amount of work ahead to establish an adult-use marijuana market in our Commonwealth, and I am proud to appoint these talented Virginians who will bring diverse backgrounds, an incredible depth of expertise, and a shared commitment to public service to this important effort.”

You can learn more about each of the boards and the governor’s appointments below. For answers to frequently asked questions, visit cannabis.virginia.gov.

CANNABIS CONTROL AUTHORITY

The Cannabis Control Authority (CCA), the regulatory agency for the legal cannabis market in Virginia, is led by a five-member Board of Directors responsible for the creation of the adult-use marketplace for cannabis and is statutorily vested with control of the regulated sale, transportation, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana products in the Commonwealth.

In the coming years, officials say the board will work to create a fair and equitable regulatory structure and provide critical guidance to the CCA’s staff as they work to develop a workforce, establish regulations, as well as ensure that marijuana legalization accomplishes the health, safety, and equity goals established by law. However, board members cannot have financial interests in the cannabis industry.

Northam is authorized through the enacted legislation to all five members of the board, who are listed below:

  • Neil Amin of Henrico, Chief Executive Officer, Shamin Hotels
  • Michael Jerome Massie, Esq. of Portsmouth, Owner, Michael Jerome Massie, PC
  • Bette Brand of Roanoke, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Consulting LLC
    • Brand earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from Virginia Tech and a Master of Business Administration from Virginia Tech. She has served in several roles at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, Administrator of Rural Business Cooperative Service, and Acting Administrator of Rural Utility Service. Before her federal service, though, Brand held senior leadership positions at Farm Credit of the Virginias for more than 35 years. At this time, she is founder and CEO of Strategic Consulting LLC.
  • Rasheeda N. Creighton of Richmond, Co-Founder, The Jackson Ward Collective
  • Shane Emmett of Midlothian, Co-Founder and Former Chief Executive Officer, Health Warrior

“The diverse range of backgrounds and expertise will provide critical perspectives to the Cannabis Control Authority and the important work that is ahead,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Brian J. Moran. “I look forward to working with the board members as we begin this process.”

CANNABIS EQUITY REINVESTMENT BOARD

Virginia’s adult-use cannabis law dedicates 30 percent of tax revenue from cannabis sales — a predicted $7.8 to 12.9 million in 2024 and $38.4 to 63.9 million in 2028 — to a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund.

A 20-person Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board will manage this fund, which will then be used to provide resources to communities that have experienced disproportionate enforcement of drug laws and economic disinvestment. More specifically, the governor’s office says the fund will support locally designed and community-based responses to such impacts, including grants for workforce development, apprenticeship, and reentry programs, as well as scholarships for historically marginalized individuals. 

“We are intentionally constructing an equitable blueprint that will embed equity and inclusion at every stage and every level of the marijuana legalization process,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer to Northam, who will chair the Board. “The Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board will serve as an important voice for Virginians and help elevate resources to the persons, communities, and families most negatively impacted by the disparate enforcement of marijuana laws and ensure that equity remains at the forefront of legalization in Virginia.”

Northam is authorized through the enacted legislation to make five appointments to the board, including one representative from the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission and four representatives of a community-based provider or community development organization.

In addition, the General Assembly will make eight other appointments, including someone who has been previously incarcerated or convicted of a marijuana-related crime; a veteran; a representative from one of Virginia’s historically Black colleges and universities; an entrepreneur; and experts in public health with experience in trauma-informed care, education with a focus on access to opportunities for youth in underserved communities, Virginia’s foster care system, and workforce development.

Additional information on this board — such as the seven ex-officio members — is available here.

  • Jorge Figueredo, MPP of Falls Church, Executive Director, Edu-Futuro
  • Amari Harris of Richmond, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Attorney, Virginia Indigent Defense Commission
  • W. Anthony West of Roanoke, Chief Operations Officer, Virginia CARES (Community Action Re-Entry System)
  • Sheba Williams of Richmond, Executive Director, Nolef Turns, Inc.
  • Vickie R. Williams-Cullins of Hampton, Executive Director, OPN-Door Communications LLC

CANNABIS PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY BOARD

The 21-person Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council is an expert advisory council to the CCA Board of Directors that will not only assess and monitor public health issues, trends, and impacts related to marijuana and marijuana legalization, but also make recommendations about health warnings, retail marijuana, and product safety and composition, and public health awareness, programming, and related resources. Furthermore, the council needs to approve any health-related regulations before the CCA can finalize them. 

“The Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council will ensure that health experts have a seat at the table as Virginia establishes a legal cannabis market,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey, who will chair the Council. “I am pleased to serve alongside these dedicated and knowledgeable council members.”

The enacted legislation authorizes the governor to make four appointments to the Council, which is required to include a representative of a local health district, someone from the cannabis industry, an academic researcher who is knowledgeable about cannabis, and a registered medical cannabis patient.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly will make 10 additional appointments, including a representative from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, experts in substance use disorder treatment and prevention, a person with experience in disability rights advocacy, a person with a social or health equity background, a member of the Medical Society of Virginia, and a representative from the Virginia Pharmacists Association.

More details about this board, like the seven ex-officio members, is available here.

  • Ngiste Abebe of Richmond, Vice President of Public Policy, Columbia Care
  • Larry Keen II of Petersburg, Associate Professor, College of Health and Natural Sciences, Department of Psychology, Virginia State University
  • Dr. Cynthia Morrow of Roanoke, Health Director, Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts
  • Marcus Treiber of Leesburg, Chief Executive Officer, EMT Holdings LLC

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