An ‘enemy of the industry’? Gov’s pick for state marijuana board surprises

An ‘enemy of the industry’? Gov’s pick for state marijuana board surprises

Vivian Stiver has history of speaking against legalization

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s nomination of Vivian Stiver to the Marijuana Control board came as a surprise to some industry folks.

“We didn’t think he was going to be an enemy to the industry,” Brandon Emmett told the Empire Thursday. Emmett is the current seatholder whom Stiver would take over for should her nomination be confirmed.

[Dunleavy picks shake up board regulating marijuana]

Stiver has a history of speaking against marijuana legalization. She was involved in a failed 2017 effort to ban marijuana operations in Fairbanks. The Fairbanks area has become a prominent growing region for the legal industry.

“I don’t think she represents the desires of the general public in the state, certainly not here in Fairbanks,” Emmett said. “And I don’t think her appointment is consistent with the governor’s desire to reduce crime and create jobs.”

A study in The Economic Journal found that inland state’s with legal marijuana laws lead to a reduction in crime in the nearest border state. Emmett said this is true for Alaska, too, because before the market was regulated people were simply sending marijuana through the mail or bringing it in by barge or car. But when it’s legal it’s not worth the risk of importing it, people will just go buy it legally at the store, which supports the tax revenue Alaska collects, he said.

Since collecting state tax on marijuana starting in October 2016, more than $20 million was collected for the state through last November, and the City and Borough of Juneau alone took in $512,500 from Jan. 1, 2018 through Nov. 30, 2018, according to the latest figures provided to the Empire from Emily Walker, tax auditor for the Alaska Department of Revenue.

Stiver helped initiate a campaign in Fairbanks for two propositions that would have made cannabis businesses illegal, but around 70 percent of voters rejected those propositions, according to the Fairbanks Daily-News Miner.

Alaskans voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2014, and Stiver said she can’t change that. But she said she can contribute to efforts to move forward in a responsible way. Education is important, she told The Associated Press.

“There are aspects of legalization that aren’t so good, right? I mean, that just can’t be denied,” she said to the AP. “So I want to contribute what I can, the best that I can that people have knowledge, our youth have knowledge, they understand what can happen.”

But Emmett told the Empire her actions in the past mean more to him than the statement she told the media.

“Knowing her track record, I just don’t believe that’s what she’s going to do,” Emmett said. “I think she’s making up that statement to survive the confirmation process. And that she’s going to increase unnecessary regulation and try to stymy the industry any way she can.”

Assembly member and Marijuana Control Board member Loren Jones spoke Thursday at a Chamber of Commerce lunch about the industry, mentioning briefly Stiver’s nomination.

An ‘enemy of the industry’? Gov’s pick for state marijuana board surprises

After his presentation, Jones said to the Empire he thinks the nomination will be a “learning process” on working together.

“Every board, every Assembly I’ve served on, we always get new members,” said Jones. “So you go through a learning process. So far in all the changes the governors have made on the board, we’ve done OK. We’ve learned to work together. We’ve learned, yeah, you disagree with me on that one, fine, we’ll still work through the process on the things we agree on.”

But some chamber members in the crowd who are in the industry were more than displeased about the nomination.

“We are very disappointed,” says Lacy Wilcox, manager of THC Alaska, a Juneau-based company that produces cannabis concentrates. “She’s a prohibitionist if I’ve ever seen one.”

Mark Springer, one of the other members of the board who is in the industry, said on Twitter, “Sorry to report that @GovDunleavy has not reappointed Brandon Emmett to the Alaska Marijuana Control Board. Brandon was one of the three remainining original appointees from 2015. His technical knowledge of the industry was always invaluable. #akdopeboard #akpot”

Emmett said he will finish out his appointment until Feb. 28.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at mbarnes@juneauempire.com or 523-2228.


More in News

FILE - Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sweeney's campaign manager said, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, that the campaign did not plan to sue over a finding released by Alaska elections officials stating that she cannot advance to the special election for U.S. House following the withdrawal of another candidate. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen, File)
Alaska Supreme Court ruling keeps Sweeney off House ballot

In a brief written order, the high court said it affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.

President Joe Biden signs into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. First lady Jill Biden looks on at right. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President signs landmark gun measure, says ‘lives will be saved’

The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday.

Three people were arrested over several days in a series of events stemming from a June 16 shoplifting incident, with a significant amount of methamphetamine seized. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Shoplifting investigation leads to arrests on drug charges

Significant amounts of drugs and loose cash, as well as stolen goods, were found.

Ben Gaglioti, an ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, stands next to a mountain hemlock tree damaged in winter on the outer coast of Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska. (Courtesy Photos / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Bonsai trees tell of winters long past

By Ned Rozell A GREEN PLATEAU NORTH OF LITUYA BAY — “These… Continue reading

This photo shows a return envelope from the recent special primary election for Alaska's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Friday, a judge sided with the state elections office on a decision to omit fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney from ballots in the special general election. Al Gross, who finished third in the special primary, dropped out of the race, creating confusing circumstances ahead of Alaska's first ranked choice vote. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Judge rules Sweeney wont advance to special election

Decision has Sweeney off the ballot for special election.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, June 25, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 19

Here’s what to expect this week.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Peter Froehlich, a retired Juneau district judge who is now a volunteer tour guide, explains the history of the history of the Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ in the State Office Building to a group of visitors Thursday. The organ has been idle since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now needs repairs before regular Friday lunchtime concerts and other performances on the 94-year-old instrument can resume.
Historic organ is in need of tuneup

How much it will cost and who will do it remain up in the air.

Candidate for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Tara Sweeney, a Republican, was in Juneau on Monday, May 16, 2022, and sat down with the Empire for an interview. A lawsuit filed Thursday challenges a decision to omit Sweeney from ballots in the upcoming Aug. 16 special election. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Lawsuit says Sweeney should advance in House race

The lawsuit says the Division of Elections misinterpreted state law.

Most Read