MN Governor Appoints Hemp Business Owner as First Director of State’s Office of Cannabis Management

MN Governor Appoints Hemp Business Owner as First Director of State’s Office of Cannabis Management

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The director will be in charge of establishing a regulatory framework and licensing infrastructure for Minnesota’s newly legalized adult-use marijuana industry.


Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (DFL) made his first significant decision concerning the state’s freshly minted recreational cannabis market since signing the bill legalizing adult-use marijuana this May. According to multiple media outlets, Walz named Erin DuPree, the owner and founder of a hemp-derived cannabis business in Apple Valley, to be Minnesota’s first director of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).


Walz made the announcement on Thursday, opting to go with a candidate from the “low-potency” end of the industry as opposed to one with a government background. Dupree can begin working immediately even though her appointment is still subject to State Senate confirmation.


In a statement, Walz said, “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.”


"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.”

- Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (DFL)


Along with being the founder and VP of sales and operation for Loonacy Cannabis, Dupree is also the founder and vice president of Cook and Quinwood Consulting in Plymouth. During a conference call with the media following the announcement, Dupree said that her small business background would enable her to take over the position without bringing any “baggage” to the job.


In a statement, she said, “I look forward to working closely with all 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.”


"I look forward to working closely with all 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, New Director of Minnesota's Office of Cannabis Management


Dupree has already begun the process of selling her company so she can begin her new position next month, which will involve hiring 150 employees to manage and oversee a market sector that is expected to exceed $1.5 billion in sales revenue by the year 2029.


Referencing her extensive experience helping start-ups get off the ground successfully, Dupree added, “This is a giant start-up, and I have done no less than a dozen of those. My experience does translate. The people we will be working with are people I already know. The industry itself, I’m well versed in. I understand what they’re already working towards. My background definitely fits.”


"This is a giant start-up, and I have done no less than a dozen of those. My experience does translate. The people we will be working with are people I already know. The industry itself, I’m well versed in. I understand what they’re already working towards. My background definitely fits.”

- Erin Dupree, New Director of Minnesota's Office of Cannabis Management


The naming of Dupree as director of the OCM is the first crucial step toward opening the first non-tribal recreational cannabis dispensary by early Spring 2025. Her main tasks over the next 18 months will be to draft rules governing the growing, processing and sale of marijuana products.


In addition, Dupree will oversee the plans for the new law’s aggressive and ambitious social equity program, prioritizing those individuals most negatively impacted by the state’s policing of cannabis in the past, most notably from communities of color.


The OCM will also be in charge of drafting the rules and forms for the 16 different licensing designations under the statute and deciding whether the state will establish and enforce potency limits for marijuana and any related products.


Despite the daunting list of action items, Dupree said she is confident the OCM will be set up correctly and will have the appropriate rules and regulations ready to go in time for the expected spring 2025 start of retail sales.


“We’re lucky that as the 23rd state to legalize, we can look back at the other 22 states to see what’s been good and what’s not been good and use that to create policy and rulemaking here. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here,” DuPree said.


The choice of Dupree is a welcome and unexpected breath of fresh air for industry advocates and stakeholders. By going with a non-bureaucrat and a small business owner, Walz is making a clear statement that he wants Minnesota’s recreational cannabis market to be entrepreneur-friendly, modern and responsive. Dupree’s first official day on the job will be October 1. Best of luck, Madam Director.