Anchorage woman named state’s top marijuana regulator

Erika McConnell of Anchorage has been named the new head of the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Board, the state department of commerce announced Tuesday.

McConnell, the marijuana coordinator for the Municipality of Anchorage, has worked in city government for 14 years. Her first day on the job is March 30, the state announced.

Gov. Bill Walker selected McConnell after the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development narrowed the slate of candidates.

McConnell replaces Sara Chambers of Juneau. Chambers has been working as the interim director of AMCO since January, when Cynthia Franklin resigned after more than two years in the position.

McConnell takes charge of AMCO at an auspicious moment for the body that regulates both alcohol and marijuana in Alaska. The Alaska Legislature is preparing for a grand rewrite of the state’s alcohol laws as a multi-year effort bears fruit. The state’s marijuana industry is entering its first summer of operations, and sales are increasing by the week as harvests grow and more businesses are licensed.

Anchorage has lagged behind much of the rest of the state with regard to marijuana sales, the victim of tight zoning rules that limited the space available for retailers and cultivators.

McConnell is the second consecutive person to be plucked from Anchorage’s municipal government to serve as permanent AMCO director.

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