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Rhode Island Governor Appoints Oklahoma Marijuana Official To Lead New State Cannabis Office



“I’m confident Michelle will effectively continue Rhode Island’s commitment to promoting the safe usage and responsible regulation of cannabis in our state.”

By Christopher Shea, Rhode Island Current

One of Oklahoma’s top medical marijuana regulators is Gov. Dan McKee’s (D) choice to become Rhode Island’s first cannabis administrator.

Michelle Reddish was named to lead the state’s Cannabis Office—a position tasked with coordinating the oversight and administration of cannabis use in Rhode Island, per the statute that legalized recreational cannabis in 2022—McKee’s office announced Thursday, May 23.

“I’m thrilled to move to beautiful Rhode Island with my children and step into the role of inaugural administrator,” Reddish said in a statement. “I am eager to build strong partnerships across the state in support of safe and equitable access to cannabis.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary is scheduled to consider Reddish’s nomination Thursday, May 30. If confirmed by the whole Senate, Reddish would receive an annual salary of $162,270, said Christina O’Reilly, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Administration.

Reddish would also have to report directly to the state’s Cannabis Control Commission—the three-member panel that regulates and gives licenses to businesses looking to get in on Rhode Island’s growing marijuana industry.

The commission was formed last June, just a little over a year after recreational cannabis was legalized. Commissioners spent their summer on a listening tour, hearing the concerns of community members and cannabis workers, which include ensuring the commission prioritizes social equity measures.

The commission is still in discussion mode, with input from an 11-member Cannabis Advisory Board, and expects to finalize rules and regulations this year.

Commission chairperson Kimberly Ahern celebrated Reddish’s nomination.

“Her regulatory and industry experience will help ensure our Commission continues its thoughtful and thorough progress as we carefully expand the adult-use market in Rhode Island,” Ahern said.

At the moment, Reddish serves as the chief operating officer for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority—a position she has held since June 2023, according to her resume. Before that, she spent over a year as the authority’s chief regulatory officer.

As regulatory officer, Reddish’s resume notes she helped refine Oklahoma’s compliance inspections, audits, complaints, notices of violation and administrative actions regarding medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Oklahoma in 2018, and the state now has 7,114 licensed cannabis businesses. The state last year extended a moratorium on new medical marijuana business licenses through 2026, according to Oklahoma Voice. A report for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority published last June found the state had 32 times more regulated cannabis than necessary to meet patient demand.

From April 2021 to March 2022, Reddish was the director of compliance for C3 industries—a Michigan-based cannabis grower and retailer with facilities in Massachusetts and Missouri. She was also a regulatory compliance officer for Orlando-based Ravago Chemicals and SLB, a Houston-based global technology company.

“Michelle’s significant expertise in regulatory compliance, development, and technological advancement position her to hit the ground running on day one,” McKee said in a statement. “I’m confident Michelle will effectively continue Rhode Island’s commitment to promoting the safe usage and responsible regulation of cannabis in our state.”

Reddish holds two master’s degrees from Tulane University — one in occupational health and safety and the other in cell and molecular biology. Reddish has a third master’s degree from the University of New Orleans in health care management.

This story was first published by Rhode Island Current.

Delaware Governor Signs Bill To Expand Medical Marijuana Access By Letting Doctors Recommend It For Any Condition

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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