McKee, General Assembly leadership name Cannabis Advisory Board picks

Board expected to ‘begin in earnest this fall’

By: - August 17, 2023 1:00 pm

Buds of marijuana on display inside Mother Earth Wellness in Pawtucket. (Photo by Christopher Shea/Rhode Island Current)

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s cannabis industry can begin getting new regulations as early as this fall as the state now has chosen the people to craft them.

Gov. Dan McKee, along with House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio on Thursday announced their long-awaited picks for the Cannabis Advisory Board.

The 19-member board, which will consist of 11 voting and eight non-voting members, is tasked with working with the Cannabis Control Commission to advise and issue recommendations on the use, commerce, regulation and effects of adult-use and medical cannabis within the state. None of the picks are subject to advice and consent from the Rhode Island Senate, unlike the three members of the Cannabis Control Commission approved by the upper chamber in June.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission also has its own advisory board, which consists of 25 members.

Commission Chair Kimberly Ahern thanked the governor and General Assembly leadership for making the appointments.

“I look forward to hearing from the board on an array of topics, including public health, public safety, industry perspective, and social equity,” Ahern said in a statement. 

“I am appreciative for these individuals’ service. They have an important role to play in advising the Cannabis Control Commission, as we carry out our statutory obligation to oversee the regulation, licensing and control of adult use and medical cannabis in our state.”

The board is expected to “begin in earnest this fall,” said Matt Sheaff, a spokesperson for McKee’s office.

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McKee made three picks for voting members, while Shekarchi and Ruggerio each named four.

The remaining eight non-voting members will be designees from the following departments: Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, Department of Labor and Training, Department of Health, Commissioner of Education’s office, Department of Public Safety, Department of Business Regulation, Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy.

The Cannabis Control Commission will approve the non-voting members.

McKee’s picks include:

  •  Angela Bannerman Ankoma, the vice president and executive director of equity leadership at the Rhode Island Foundation
  • Stuart J. Procter, the co-founder and laboratory director of PureVita Labs — a West Warwick-based cannabis testing facility.
  • Ronald Crosson, the executive director of the Providence-based microbusiness incubator Urban Ventures Inc., who will serve as chair and social equity officer of the board. Cronsson serves on the board of the Providence Public Building Authority and Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island.

“These three appointments to the Cannabis Advisory Board represent a diverse slate of candidates who possess a wide range of experience that will prove critical in their new roles,” McKee said.

Shekarchi’s picks include:

  • Angelyne E. Cooper-Bailey, legal counsel in the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training
  • Michael A. DiLauro, a retired public defender 
  • Melina Lodge, the executive director of the Housing Network of Rhode Island
  • Armand T. Lusi, the president of Lusi Construction and the Rhode Island Cultivator Industry Association. 

Under the terms of the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, the Speaker of the House must appoint a representative of the cultivation industry to the advisory board. 

Ruggerio’s picks are:

  • Emily R. Almeida, a quality and compliance manager for Green Thumb Industries, which owns and operates RISE Dispensary in Warwick
  • Dr. Mary J. Archibald, a truancy officer and school social worker for Providence Public Schools and adjunct faculty member in Rhode Island College’s Sociology Department and School of Social Work
  • Dr. Dioscaris R. Garcia, a pharmacologist and microbiologist specializing in cell signaling and infectious diseases who works as an assistant professor and co-director of the Diane N. Weiss Center for Orthopedic Trauma Research at Brown University
  • Nicole M. Verdi, an attorney who served as chief legal counsel to the President of the Senate and deputy chief of staff to former Gov.Gina Raimondo.

“Rhode Island’s cannabis legalization law is aimed at more than simply ending the policy of prohibition,” Ruggerio and Shekarchi said in a joint statement. “It is also about righting past wrongs, and building a new industry in as fair and equitable a manner as possible. 

“This diverse advisory board brings a broad range of perspectives and insight to assist the Cannabis Control Commission in their mission, they continued.


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Christopher Shea
Christopher Shea

Christopher Shea covers politics, the criminal justice system and transportation for the Rhode Island Current.