Acting director of AMCO looks to reshape the regulatory process with two separate boards

Published: Jan. 23, 2020 at 7:24 PM AKST
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During the first 2020 meeting of Alaska's Marijuana Control Board, there was talk of a major shake up in the current regulatory structure of the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office. Acting director Glen Klinkhart was appointed as director of AMCO by Governor Mike Dunleavy in November of last year. Now, he's looking to split AMCO, dissolving his position in favor of two "executive administrators."

“There are so many resources that need to be put in other places, you’ve got two boards that are both asking for a lot of things from a lot of different places," Klinkhart told KTUU, "One of the initials problems I discovered is- I couldn’t wear all of these hats.”

Many of the industry members in attendance were on the fence, torn between the idea of having increase access to regulatory resource, and feat that the move could diminish the MCB's position as a regulatory authority.

“I would only hope whatever is coming forward doesn’t diminish the boards ability to drive the conversation about regulations,” said Lacy Wilcox, the president of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association.

Longtime MCB member and current chairman, Mark Springer is set to leave his position in the coming months. He says he doesn't think the legislation will "go anywhere," but he is concerned about the idea that reestablishing both boards under a different division of the Department of Commerce could affect both the public access and the transparency of the regulatory process.

"“It has the potential to reduce the public’s opportunity to have input to the process, it reduces industry’s opportunity to have input to the process," Springer said, "Some people say we are bureaucratic as heck but we have made great strides over the past 5 years.”

During his directors report, Klinkhart highlighted the need for a revamp of the current system, referring to the combination of alcohol and marijuana regulators as an arraigned marriage of convenience.

"I understand it was necessary helping to create a new industry from scratch and again I thank all of you that were a part of that;" he said "However, after several years of being tied together, there are what I call irreconcilable differences.”

The acting director said that a piece of legislation regarding his ideas for how AMCO should operate will be completed soon, but he's not waiting for lawmakers to pass any bill approving of his plan.

"What I'm trying to do is so important that I'm not going to wait for Juneau, I'm not going to wait for a bill. I'm going to move forward," Klinkhart said.