New Minnesota cannabis czar appointed, discusses retail sales timeline

Minnesota has its first cannabis czar.

Governor Tim Walz appointed Erin DuPree to head up the Office of Cannabis Management.

State leaders have said all along they expect it to take 18 months from legalization to retail sales, but the new leader is hinting at an even longer timeline.

DuPree takes her new position in October.

She’s been working as a cannabis business consultant in other states and operating a hemp-derived THC business in Apple Valley, but she says she’ll divest herself of those businesses in the next couple weeks because of the potential conflicts.

DuPree says the biggest hurdle to getting the office up to full speed will be hiring.

They need about 150 employees and posted nine positions last week.

She said other states have taken two to three years to ramp up for retail sales after legalization, but also noted the roadmap already laid out by other states.

"We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here," she said. "We’re lucky as the 23rd state to legalize, we can look back on the other 22 states and see what’s been good and what’s not been good and use that to help make policy here."

Dupree said this state should be on the same two or three-year timeline as other states.

But Minnesota actually appears to be on a longer timeline than states like Colorado, California, Michigan, New Jersey, and Washington — all of which launched retail sales less than 19 months after legalization.

DuPree also said she wants her office to focus on making cannabis a craft Industry with micro- and mezzo-businesses dotting the landscape.

Exact details are still a ways out.