Proposal calls for Alaska pot, alcohol board administrators

JUNEAU, Alaska — The boards that regulate alcohol and the legal marijuana industry in Alaska would have their own administrators under a proposal pitched by the interim director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office as a way to improve operations.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Glen Klinkhart interim director in November, after the Alcoholic Beverage Control and Marijuana Control boards fired their shared director, Erika McConnell.

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Klinkhart, in a memo to both boards, said the boards, staff, licensees and public aren't being served equally or equitably by the director or the office. On any given day, he wrote, up to 90% of the director's job is spent on "day to day marijuana only issues," and considerable time is spent by the director and staff on "problems of the moment" that if not handled quickly could become bigger issues.

"This means there is no time and resources available to devote to long-term planning or the implementation of future goals for either board or the industries they are supposed to regulate," he wrote.

The issues are not a reflection on current or former directors, staff or board members, he wrote. They also are not "self-correcting and they will not be resolved by finding a better, smarter, or harder working, director, staff, or members of the board," he said.

Klinkhart proposed a "deputy director" for each board who would focus on the issues of their respective boards and licensees.

Both boards were scheduled to meet this week in Juneau. The proposal was posted in meeting documents online.

McConnell cited concerns with the adequacy of resources while in her role.

Jeff Turner, a Dunleavy spokesman, by email said the administration is working with Klinkhart, board members and the industries "to craft a bill that protects the public and serves the industry. That legislation is expected to be ready in the near future."

The administration floated the idea last year of doing away with the boards, but no such legislation was ever introduced.

Sara Chambers, director of the state Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, said the proposal being worked on would place the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office within her division. The boards would retain their current roles and authorities, she said.

The proposal would delete the director position from the office and instead create two executive administrator positions, one for each board, who would report to Chambers through the existing structure in her division, she said.

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