One of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s picks to serve on the state Marijuana Control Board had a hearing before the House Labor and Commerce Committee this week.
Christopher Jaime was nominated to be the board’s public safety representative after Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik (M-luh-NARR-ick) resigned earlier this year. Jaime is a Deputy Commander for Alaska Wildlife Troopers, stationed in Soldotna. He told the committee he wasn’t interested in acting against the 2014 statewide vote that legalized recreational cannabis use.
“I understand that the citizens of Alaska voted to legalize the cultivation, consumption and distribution of marijuana. I’m not looking to express any of my personal views of marijuana, or vote against the will of the people. I plan on taking a commonsense approach while on the board and regulate marijuana from a public safety perspective. I will be receptive to the industry’s needs and weigh all decisions through the prism of law.”
He says he’s been able to get a first-hand look at the different aspects of the industry by visiting businesses on the Peninsula.
“I’ve been contacted by and actually went down to Peace Frog Botanicals, which is a cultivator in Kenai. I walked through their business and received a detailed explanation of the challenges they face. In the same day, I went to High Bush Buds in Soldotna and spoke with the owner there and she gave me a tour of the business. I was shown the whole process from seed to sale. It’s very interesting and I’m excited for this opportunity.”
There was some concern from the committee that as a state employee, Lt. Jamie may feel beholden to directives from the governor’s office, including Dunleavy’s proposal to do away with the Marijuana and Alcohol Control Boards altogether, leaving those regulatory duties to commissioners.
“It’s his choice to do that or not. I’m not going to make a statement for or against. I think as the Marijuana Control Board, if we decide to do a statement together, that’s more appropriate than me just voicing my opinion of the governor’s proposal.”
The committee recommended Jaime’s nomination be sent to a joint house and senate session for confirmation. Jaime’s appointment, while concerning for some in the industry, has proven far less controversial than Dunleavy’s other appointment, Vivian Stiver of Fairbanks, who had her hearing Thursday.