Marijuana policy is often a sticky subject in California, but that may change with the nomination of the state's first ever Marijuana Czar. Governor Jerry Brown yesterday tapped the current Republican head of California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Lori Ajax, to lead what will be a brand new agency — assuming the state Senate votes to confirm her in the role.
The agency Ajax has been tasked to lead will be known as the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, reports the San Francisco Business Times. The position's official title is "Chief," and we wrote about the then-unfilled job listing late last year.
"Applicants must demonstrate the ability to perform high level administrative and policy functions effectively," the job posting read. "The ability to plan, develop, organize and direct the work of the multidisciplinary professional and administrative staff" is considered crucial to the role.
Assuming everything goes well with the confirmation vote, the Chronicle reports that Ajax will essentially be creating a government agency from the ground up, and that she will need to hire 40 to 50 people to staff it.
Growers around the state, of course, will be watching Ajax closely.
“Lori comes to us as a relative unknown, which is a good thing from our perspective,” Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, told the Chronicle. “She is a very skilled bureaucrat."
The owner of California’s largest medical cannabis dispensary, Steve DeAngelo, told the Chronicle that Ajax's 2014 visit to his dispensary is, in his mind, a good sign.
“For me, that’s reassuring because it showed me that she has an interest in learning about the industry,” he explained. “And she’s a woman, which is great, because the cannabis industry needs some more diversity.”
Ajax's previous work at the ABC means she has experience dealing with the complicated licensing systems that will likely be necessary as the state's marijuana industry continues to grow.
The position pays $150,636, and it's unclear if it drug tests.