The director of Minnesota’s new marijuana regulatory agency announced that she will step down from her post, after reports had emerged that she had sold illegal cannabis products in her shop.
The announcement by Erin Dupree came on Sept. 21, just a day after she was appointed Minnesota’s first director of the Office of Cannabis Management by Gov. Tim Walz.
Ms. DuPree’s cannabis store, Loonacy, reportedly sold products containing higher than legal concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, in addition to some other products classed as illegal by state law, according to the Star Tribune.
She reportedly also owed money to former associates and accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in tax liens, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
“I have never knowingly sold any noncompliant product, and when I became aware of them I removed the products from inventory,” she told CBS in a statement, adding that, “Conducting lawful business has been an objective of my business career.”
However, Ms. Dupree went on to say that this she had become a distraction that would obstruct the important work that needs to be done.
Mr. Walz praised Ms. Dupree shortly after her appointment in light of her lengthy experience in the industry, adding she was an outstanding choice for the role.
“DuPree is a proven and effective leader, who will be successful in standing up Minnesota’s new adult-use cannabis market and helping Minnesotans succeed in the industry,” Mr. Walz said in a Sept. 20 statement.
The statement was echoed by senior state government aide and interim director of the agency, Charlene Briner, who led the hiring process.
In a statement the following day, Mr. Walz went on to emphasizing the importance of fostering an industry with community trust.
“We have a responsibility to assure Minnesotans that this emerging market will be safe, lawful, and well-regulated. We’re making progress toward implementing this work,” Mr. Walz said after Ms. Dupree’s resignation.
“One of the responsibilities, and I take it and the buck stops with me, is the appointments of literally thousands of people. In this case, the process did not work and we got this wrong,” Mr. Walz added, according to the Star Tribune.
Ms. Dupree would have officially started in her role on Oct. 2. With the new agency still lacking a permanent director, Ms. Briner will remain interim director for the time being, according to Mr. Walz.
Minnesota legalized the use of recreational marijuana in August, with its first non-reservation cannabis shops scheduled to open in 2025.
Under new laws, people aged 21 and older can legally possess and grow their own marijuana for recreational purposes, subject to limits.
The state is working to establish a legal cannabis industry in the coming months and years.
Minnesota is the 23rd U.S. state to legalize marijuana, with several neighboring states, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, yet to legalize it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.