A sea of green inside the grow facility of a licensed Washington state cultivator.

Rory Savatgy

State Cannabis Regulators Often Moving On as Consultants, Lobbyists

Former state cannabis regulators are bringing their expertise to the private sector, forming consulting firms and lobby groups, according to a report from The Hill. Some are advising states and municipalities on how to implement new laws, and others are pushing their former colleagues for industry reforms.

Andrew Freedman, who served as the director of marijuana coordination in Colorado, and Lewis Koski, former head of the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, formed a consulting firm to advise governments on how to set up a regulatory system.

“We’re the only ones to have stood this up before,” Freedman, said in the report. “There’s a real opportunity to come in and show lessons learned quickly.”

Earlier this month, Laura Harris, who preceded Koski, took a job as the director of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Former overseer of the Minnesota Office of Medical Cannabis, Manny Munson-Regala, created his own firm, Root Cause Consulting. John O’Brien resigned from his post at New Jersey’s medical cannabis program for a job as chief compliance officer for a New York cannabis company.

Under Minnesota law, regulators are required to take a year off before returning to the industry. Munson-Regala said the requirement is not unlike other sectors, such as insurance.

“Embedded in that one-year cooling off period was an understanding that regulators are in a good position to help folks who are being regulated, in part because they understand what it takes to be compliant,” he said.

Aaron Scherb, legislative affairs director for Common Cause, said he supports cooling off periods and would like to see them implemented in more states with legal cannabis programs.

“These individuals are the most familiar with the rules and regulations of a particular industry, and their experience means they’re able to exploit loopholes,” he said. “At least some minimal amount of time is appropriate so we can avoid this revolving door problem.”

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