Top NM cannabis regulator draws criticism after taking private-sector job

The decision of a leading cannabis regulator in New Mexico to take a private-sector job at a marijuana consultancy has prompted criticism from at least one state legislator.

Kristen Thomson, appointed the first director of the state’s Cannabis Control Division (CCD) just last November, resigned in June, telling New Mexico Political Report it was not intended to be her “forever job.”

The Weeds marijuana consultancy announced Monday it had hired Thomson as a partner and chief strategy officer, Albuquerque TV station KRQE reported.

The move by Thomson sparked criticism from state Sen. Jacob Candelaria.

Candelaria told KRQE that Thomson’s acceptance of the Weeds job “violates the spirit of our ethics laws” because she left a government job for a “sweetheart deal with private entities that she wants regulated.”

The senator – who has cannabis business interests as an attorney for Ultra Health, the state’s largest medical marijuana operator – acknowledged to the TV station that he has run into ethics issues of his own.

Weeds also hired a second former state regulator, Bobbi Martinez, who served as a compliance manager for the CCD.

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Weeds is owned by current Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who has experience regulating the cannabis industry as a city official.

After Thomson resigned, Caroline Barrera was appointed acting director of the CCD; a replacement for Martinez has not yet been hired.