McKee nominates 3 for R.I. Cannabis Control Commission

GOV. DANIEL J. MCKEE ON WEDNESDAY ANNOUNCED his appointments to the R.I. Cannabis Control Commision. / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO/ DAVID GOLDMAN

PROVIDENCE – Gov. Daniel J. McKee on Wednesday announced his three appointments to the R.I. Cannabis Control Commission, which will be tasked with regulatory oversight and licensing of adult use and medical cannabis, including the approval of the 24 new retail licenses allowable under the Rhode Island Cannabis Act.

Among the nominations are McKee’s current deputy chief of staff, Kimberly Ahern, picked to chair the commission; Cranston attorney Layi Oduyingbo; and Cranston attorney and retired sergeant of the Cranston Police Department, Robert Jacquard.

Jacquard served as a state representative in the General Assembly from 1993 to 2021. Ahern held previous roles as deputy counsel for former Gov. Gina Raimondo and as a special assistant in the office of the R.I. Attorney General.

The names now go to the Senate for approval.

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“I am proud to appoint these three individuals to the commission to ensure Rhode Island’s cannabis industry is both fairly regulated and successful,” said McKee. “These nominees bring diverse and relevant experience and I look forward to working with them.”

While sales have been happening since Dec. 1, 2022, there are still only nine locations that had already held medical marijuana dispensary licenses now selling marijuana for recreational use.

The law legalizing cannabis, signed by McKee last May, gave him 40 days to issue his commission nominations. The delay has stalled the crafting of the rules that will govern how cannabis products will be advertised and marketed.

A spokesperson for McKee did not immediately respond for comment on the reasoning behind the delay. Olivia DaRocha, McKee’s press secretary, previously blamed the 11-month delay on the “extensive process involving coordination with the state police” to conduct background checks on prospective candidates.

Ahern said in a statement Wednesday that adult use marijuana legalization has “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,” she said.

Matthew Santacroce of R.I. Office of Cannabis Regulation, previously told Providence Business News the office has been handling licensing and oversight and plans on “advising and supporting the commission during this rulemaking while continuing to carry out these duties.”

 Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at Allen@PBN.com.

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