Cannabis office director resigns for personal reasons

The director of the Virgin Islands Office of Cannabis Regulation, Hannah Carty, has announced her resignation, effective in early March. Carty cited personal reasons and family needs as the main factors for her decision. She has been leading the office since September 2021, and has been instrumental in developing the regulatory framework for the legal cannabis industry in the territory.

The Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR) is a new agency that was created by the Adult-Use Cannabis Act, which was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. in 2023. The act legalized the possession, consumption, and sale of cannabis for adults 21 and older in the Virgin Islands, and also created a regulatory framework for the cannabis industry.

The OCR is responsible for issuing licenses, setting standards, conducting inspections, and enforcing rules and regulations for the cannabis industry. The OCR is also responsible for reviewing and expunging cannabis-related convictions that are no longer crimes under the new law.

The OCR is overseen by the Cannabis Advisory Board, which consists of seven members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate. The board has expertise in criminal justice, public health, social justice, and cannabis policy. The board advises the OCR on various matters related to the cannabis industry, and also approves the rules and regulations proposed by the OCR.

The director: A former city attorney with a passion for justice and equity

Hannah Carty is the first and only director of the OCR. She was appointed by Bryan in September 2021, and started her duties in October 2021. She has a diverse background in law, public service, and human rights.

Carty is a former city attorney for Minneapolis, where she handled civil litigation, labor and employment, and civil rights matters. She also served as the vice president and general counsel for employee and labor relations at Target Corporation, where she managed a team of attorneys and professionals who provided legal advice and counsel on labor and employment issues.

Carty is also the director of people and culture for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, where she oversees the human resources, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and organizational development functions.

Carty has been involved in various community and professional organizations, such as the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, and the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association. She has also been recognized for her leadership and legal talent by several awards and honors, such as the Minnesota Lawyer’s Diversity and Inclusion Award, the Hennepin County Bar Association’s Excellence Award, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award.

Carty said she is honored and humbled to have served as the director of the OCR, and that she is proud of the work that she and the board have done to establish the legal cannabis industry in the territory.

“I have been passionate about supporting efforts to reduce and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the employment space and criminal justice system throughout my career,” Carty said. “I am truly proud to have applied my leadership experiences and to have done meaningful and impactful work to address these disparities as the inaugural leader of this important organization dedicated to the review of cannabis felonies for expungement or resentencing.”

The resignation: A personal decision and a smooth transition

Carty said she informed the Cannabis Advisory Board of her desire to resign in late autumn, but wanted to stay on until several key projects were completed, such as the regulator’s registry system and the auto-expungement report that gives people convicted of cannabis possession a path to a clean record.

“Because they require a substantial amount of prior knowledge to complete, it wouldn’t have been fair to the next person to leave that workload for them,” she said. “I just know that I need to take a step off right now so I can concentrate on what’s best for my family.”

Carty said she will officially resign in early March, and will help with the transition process until then. She said she is not sure who will succeed her in the role, but she hopes to leave them a clear scope of work and a solid foundation to build on.

“When the new person steps into the role, they can start with a clean slate and get started with the rules and regulations and start making moves from there,” she said.

Carty said she is grateful for the support and collaboration that she has received from the governor, the legislature, the board, the staff, and the stakeholders. She said she is confident that the OCR will continue to fulfill its mission and vision, and to serve the best interests of the people of the Virgin Islands.

“I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this process, and who has supported me and the OCR,” she said. “I have learned a lot from this experience, and I have grown as a leader and as a person. I am optimistic about the future of the legal cannabis industry in the territory, and I wish everyone the best of luck.”

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