Late last month, cannabis industry representatives gathered in Juneau to attend the February Marijuana Control Board meeting. This meeting held particular signifance because Alaska’s legislature is in session, which provided industry representatives a wonderful opportunity to meet with elected officials. It was also the final meeting for board member Brandon Emmett.
Many showed up to hear Emmett’s final words as a board member.. Emmett will be sorely missed on the board. To many, he appeared to be the only MCB member capable of bridging the gap between those who sit on the board making the rules and those who work in the industry. Dunleavey’s proposal to replace Emmett with known pot prohibitionist Vivian Stiver has many industry officials up in arms. This decision was a center of conversation during the week, as industry members gathered to voice their concerns with state officials.
“I’m sad to see his logic and wisdom leave the MCB, however I can’t imagine he’s going to step away from pushing for change. I’m really looking forward to working with him as an advocate,” commented Tina Smith, owner of Midnight Greenery and host of Through The Looking Glass. Tina is a cannabis activist herself, who traveled down to Juneau to attend the meeting and lobby for the cannabis community.
Rebecca Rein of The Houston Collective commented, “Emmett’s departure from the MCB is less of a farewell and more of a changing of directions. He has immeasurably influenced the regulations for the Cannabis Industry.”
That seemed to be the general consensus. Emmett had a unique role on the board, being the owner of the Fairbanks-based company, Good Titrations. Because of this, Emmitt was able to provide valuable information to other board members who are less cannabis savvy. Watching him speak at the meeting, it was clear he was the only outspoken board member who was able to connect the cannabis community to those making the rules regarding the industry. Without Emmett, many are left wondering who will fill that gap? What will the results be of appointing a community member who potentially knows very little, if anything at all, about the substance they’re helping regulate?
“The loss of Brandon Emmett on the MCB is truly devastating. Since the board’s inception, Emmett has served this industry, spending countless hours researching how to improve the industry and consistently taking a diplomatic approach. His shoes will be hard to fill and for industry owners this is a scary time. I know that his passion to continue to better the industry does not cease with his removal from the board. In fact, I have a feeling this new administration lit a fire and driving force that we have yet to see,” shared Chelsea Foster, owner of the valley based cultivation, Keefin’ It Real.
Last Friday Chelsea Foster, Rebecca Rein, Tina Smith, and myself, met briefly with Republican Representative Gary Knopf, who represents the 30th district, covering parts of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. He was thanked for his work and ask what he thought of Stiver as a replacement. Knopf expressed that he didn’t think the vote for Stiver would go through, as they had received several emails and phone calls objecting to Stiver, and only a handful of those supporting the nominee.
Elvi Gray-Jackson, democratic member of the Alaska State Senate, also expressed her concern for the new appointee, recognizing the potential issues with having a known prohibitionist on the board. During the public confirmation hearing, 60 opposed the Stiver nomination, while only 8 supported it.
In his final words as MCB member, Brandon Emmett shared this with the community:
“It’s not often that someone is granted the opportunity to steward a voter initiative from blank regulations to a robust, regulated industry, and the experience that I’ve gained here has been invaluable. To my fellow board members and our dedicated staff, I want to thank each of you for your steadfast commitment to our public process and the people of this great state. Mark Springer, I commend you for your calm demeanor, personability, your unique sense of humor, and your desire to seek balance. Your mentorship has really helped me grow as a policy maker, and I’m proud to call you a friend. Lauren Jones, your attention to detail is impressive. Your desire to make sure local governments that are fairly represented is refreshing. I enjoyed working on our regulations projects together. Nick Miller, a man of few words. A rare quality in a world where so many people like to hear themselves talk. You may now bare the industry torch alone, and I have the utmost confidence that you’ll do so with distinction. Ericka McConnell, I’m always amazed at your ability to remember the decisions and the actions that this board has taken. It’s really a lot to remember. I appreciate you keeping us on task and managing the department with such limited resources. Thank. You. To Harriette Milkes, many a poor decision has been positively influenced by your interpretation of Alaska statutes, your consistency, professionalism, and innate sense of logic has helped guide the board with making tough decisions. These regulations would’ve be where they are today without you. Chief Hoelscher, if you’re out there, marijuana legalization has created a unique alliance that would have been unheard of ten years ago. A new partnership has been forged, one where marijuana businesses and enforcement both seek to rid our industry from criminal actors. You and your department have been a vital partner in this fight, and for that you have my respect and gratitude. To Governor Dunleavey, a great leader is someone who can inspire those around him and provide a sense of security for his constituents. Unfortunately, in the short time you've been in office, your proposals have left many Alaskans despondent, feeling a heavy weight of uncertainty. From a track record of poorly vetted appointees to a PFD before all else policy, it calls into question your level of commitment to the studiousness that is required of our states highest ranking administrator. Cutting government spending in tough times is often necessary but that decision should be balanced with policies to build consumer confidence and create jobs in the private sector. It is for this reason that I strongly oppose your attempt to eliminate AMCO by appointment of an abject Prohibitionist to this board, one of two things has become apparent; that you have either not done your homework in vetting this appointee, or you truly intend to harm the marijuana industry. Your campaign promised to create jobs and fight crime. The legal marijuana industry is a valuable partner in this effort, therefore Governor, I urge you, please do balance the budget, but do so in a way that keeps Alaskans safe and strengthens our economy. Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank the people of Alaska for supporting this journey called legalization. Without public support the marijuana industry would still be confined to the shadows of our society and for those brave entrepreneurs who have paved the way for so many business owners yet to come, I salute you. Your courage, tenacity, and belief in the Alaskan dream have been an inspiration. Thank you all.”
Thank you Brandon Emmett, for your service to our industry. We all look forward to seeing you continue to advocate for the greater good.