New Jersey governor picks cannabis czar after legalization vote

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t wasting any time getting the ball rolling after voters legalized adult-use marijuana on Election Day.

Murphy on Friday appointed a top adviser, Dianna Houenou, to chair the state’s new Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

He also chose Jeff Brown, who oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, to serve as the commission’s executive director.

The commission, once fully developed, will regulate New Jersey’s medical cannabis market, as well as its forthcoming recreational marijuana program.

The appointment of Houenou reflects the importance of social justice issues as state lawmakers consider a bill to implement an adult-use market that Marijuana Business Daily projects will approach a billion dollars a year in sales by 2024.

Houenou currently serves as Murphy’s senior policy adviser and formerly was policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

“Dianna has been a critical voice for social justice and equity on my team for the past year and a half after spending several years working on the fight to legalize marijuana with the ACLU,” Murphy said in a news release.

“Since Day One, we have said that the legalization of recreational marijuana must prioritize the communities marginalized and decimated by the failed war on drugs.”

Brown currently serves as assistant commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Health, overseeing the Division of Medicinal Marijuana.