Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appointed the five members of the Cannabis Control Authority that will govern the state’s legal marijuana market, while Attorney General Mark Herring said he is seeking to hire a general counsel for the new marijuana agency.

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The Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) “is statutorily vested with control of the regulated sale, transportation, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana products in the Commonwealth,” according to a news release from Northam’s office.

Virginia lawmakers approved a legal recreational marijuana market in February, but sales are not expected to begin until Jan. 1, 2024.

The cannabis board will be chaired by Neil Amin, the longtime CEO of Shamin Hotels, which owns and operates 60-plus hotels under the Hilton, Marriott, Intercontinental Hotels and Hyatt brands. He previously served on the Virginia Treasury Board, Virginia Small Business Financing Authority and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates.

Michael Jerome Massie, who owns the Michael Jerome Massie law firm, will serve as vice chair of the CCA.

The other CCA board members are:

  • Bette Brand, CEO of Strategic Consulting and a former deputy undersecretary for Rural Development, Administrator of Rural Business Cooperative Service and acting administrator of Rural Utility Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Rasheeda N. Creighton, co-Founder of The Jackson Ward Collective, a business resource and network entity for Black business professionals.
  • Shane Emmett, co-founder and former CEO of Health Warrior, a health-food brand recently acquired by PepsiCo.

Northam also appointed members to two other marijuana agencies, the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board and the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board.

Meanwhile, the cannabis attorney, once hired, will serve as general counsel to the CCA and also assist other Virginia agencies with marijuana laws and rules, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.