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Administration associate counsel and senior policy officer Diana Houenou.

Murphy associate counsel to chair Cannabis Regulatory Commission

By Nikita Biryukov, November 06 2020 11:51 am

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Diana Houenou, an administration associate counsel and senior policy advisor, will chair the Cannabis Regulatory Commission Friday.

“Wherever she has worked, she built a wellspring of Trust throughout numerous communities, and in this new role, she will be called upon to continue doing just that,” Murphy said.

Assistant Health Commissioner Jeff Brown, who oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, will serve as the commission’s executive director.

It’s not yet clear exactly what the commission or its mandate will look like. Enabling legislation creating the state’s regulatory framework for recreational marijuana has not yet been introduced, but Murphy’s appointments got a good review from one of the organizations that led the fight for the legalization ballot question.

“Governor Murphy has made an astute choice by naming Dianna Houenou as chair of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission,” ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said. “We are optimistic that Dianna’s leadership and knowledge of the issues will position New Jersey to implement marijuana regulation and reforms with equity and racial justice from the start.”

Houenou previously served as a policy counsel at the state branch of the ACLU.

Murphy and the two appointees on Friday stressed that their guiding of the state’s recreational marijuana industry would be centered around social justice and equity. With much about legal marijuana still in the works, it’s not clear what exactly that means.

They said that mission would include reinvestment in communities affected by the war on drugs. Those principals will also guide who gets licenses to operate dispensaries and where such stores will be located.

“Together we fought for the day when New Jersey would move away from failed prohibition policies that prevented people from getting medicine, getting a job, getting an education and getting housing,” Houenou said. “And finally, that day has come.”

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