Alaska’s top cannabis regulator under siege by state liquor board

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The Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board wants to remove the state’s top alcohol and marijuana regulator, marking the latest potentially destabilizing development for the state’s cannabis industry.

The board voted 5-0 at a special meeting Thursday to remove Erika McConnell, director of the Alaska Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Board Chairman Bob Klein, CEO of Anchorage Distillery, was quoted as saying that the vote reflected “a lack of confidence that our wishes could be carried through” with McConnell at the helm.

The state’s Marijuana Control Board must concur with the decision before Nov. 30 for it to move forward.

While it’s unclear how the members of the cannabis board will vote, the group declared its confidence in McConnell in July.

McConnell told the Anchorage Daily News that she believed the alcohol board is feeling pressure from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.

The Republican governor has rattled the marijuana industry before by saying he wanted to abolish the Marijuana Control Board. He then put a marijuana critic on the panel. Most recently, he put a marijuana advocate back on the board.

McConnell, meanwhile, has sparred with the Alaska Department of Public Safety over access to databases to conduct criminal background checks.

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