Apple Valley businesswoman appointed as Minnesota’s first cannabis management director
Nearly two months after the use of recreational marijuana became legal in Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz has appointed the state’s first-ever cannabis management director.
On Thursday morning, Walz’s office announced Erin DuPree, the founder, vice president of sales and operations, as well as the head of research and development at Loonacy Cannabis Co. in Apple Valley, had been appointed to the position.
According to Walz’s office, DuPree will be in charge of building the new state agency and will also help establish and regulate the cannabis market within the state. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will be in charge of issuing licenses and developing regulations that outline how and when businesses can participate in the industry.
During a media availability Thursday, DuPree stated she plans to sell her business to avoid any conflict of interest as the state’s cannabis management director.
“I really want Minnesotans to know I am here for them and for businesses,” she told reporters during an online news conference. “As we all know it’s going to take a heave-ho to get this going. I’m excited to get to work.”
She acknowledges she has no experience starting a state agency or even working in one. However, she says she also doesn’t bring the “baggage” that can come from someone who has been a long-time bureaucrat. Dupree says what she does have is experience starting her own businesses or consulting on others.
“We know that within the first year of legalization, Minnesota’s going to do about a billion dollars in revenue in this industry,” she said. “But let’s also look at the fact that this is a giant start-up and I have done no less than a dozen of those.”
DuPree issued the following prepared statement regarding her appointment:
“It is an honor to join the Walz-Flanagan administration as the first director of the new Office of Cannabis Management. I look forward to working closely with all of the legislators, stakeholders, and advocates who worked so hard to pass this new law and am committed to the work of ensuring Minnesota’s new adult-use cannabis industry will grow and thrive for years to come.”Erin DuPree, appointed as director of the OCM
Although the bill that legalized the use of recreational cannabis use for adults was signed in May, it became law on Aug. 1.
Minnesota joins 22 other states to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.
The legislature set a goal of having a framework in place for licensing businesses to sell cannabis products within 18 months. Dupree says other states have taken two to three years, but she’s confident Minnesota can do better.
“I don’t see any reason we won’t be able to meet or exceed those expectations,” Dupree told reporters. “You know I believe we will be leveraging technology to make this an easier transition. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. We’re lucky as the 23rd state to legalize we can look back on the other 22 states and see what’s been good and what’s not been good.”
Walz issued this statement in support of Dupree:
“With direct experience in Minnesota’s hemp and cannabis industry and over 20 years of success in launching, managing, and growing businesses and organizations, Erin DuPree is an outstanding choice to lead the Office of Cannabis Management. DuPree is a proven and effective leader, who will be successful in standing up Minnesota’s new adult-use cannabis market and helping Minnesotans succeed int he industry.”Gov. Walz