RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced 16 appointments to three newly-created boards responsible for overseeing the legalization of recreational marijuana in the Commonwealth on Monday.
Richmond native Rasheeda Creighton was one of the applicants selected for the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) Board of Directors, which will serve as the regulatory agency for the legal cannabis market in Virginia.
According to a release, the CAA will be led by a five-member Board of Directors responsible for the creation of the adult-use marketplace for cannabis and statutorily vested with control of the regulated sale, transport and distribution of marijuana and marijuana products in the Commonwealth.
“They opened up applications a couple months ago and I submitted my application to the board, largely because one of the key pillars was around social equity and the Commonwealth really wanting to get the rollout of this new industry in Virginia right and balanced,” Creighton said. “I felt that with my legal background, as well as with my experience with small businesses, it would be a good opportunity to help play a role in that.”
Creighton co-founded the Jackson Ward Collective, a hub that connects Black business owners to each other and to resources to help them succeed. She also founded and is CEO of The 3Fifty Group, a consulting company geared toward supporting the small business ecosystem.
“My interest in being on this particular board is really focused on the business aspects, so regulations as they relate to business,” Creighton said. “I am a lawyer by training. I have a lot of experience with small businesses, and so that’s why I was really interested. I’m really passionate about equity and inclusion, and that is one of the pillars that is important to this board, is around social equity.”
According to a release, in the coming years, the Cannabis Control Authority Board of Directors will work to create a fair and equitable regulatory structure and provide guidance to the CCA’s staff as they work to develop a workforce, establish regulations and ensure that marijuana legalization accomplishes the health, safety and equity goals established by law.
Board members, appointed by the governor, are prohibited from having financial interests in the cannabis industry.
Neil Amin, CEO of Shamin Hotels in Henrico, was named the Chair of the CCA Board of Directors. According to a release, he started his career at Goldman Sachs & Co., where he advised public and private technology companies on merger and acquisition transactions and capital markets activities.
Since 2008, Amin has served as CEO of Shamin Hotels, which owns and operates over 60 hotels under the Hilton, Marriott, Intercontinental Hotels and Hyatt brands. He previously served on the Virginia Treasury Board, Virginia Small Business Financing Authority and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates.
Michael Jerome Massie of Portsmouth was also appointed to the Cannabis Control Authority Board of Directors and will serve as Vice Chair. According to a release, he is a trial lawyer with experience at every level of Virginia’s courts and federal courts. He is currently the owner of Michael Jerome Massie, PC. He started his practice of law as a Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Portsmouth and has served as a Substitute Judge.
Bette Brand of Roanoke and Shane Emmett of Midlothian were also named to the board alongside Creighton.
According to a release, Brand has served in several roles at the United States Department of Agriculture including Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, Administrator of Rural Business Cooperative Service and Acting Administrator of Rural Utility Service. Prior to her federal service, Brand held senior leadership positions at Farm Credit of the Virginias for more than 35 years. She is currently Founder and CEO of Strategic Consulting LLC.
Emmett served as an attorney in the Office of the Counselor to Governor Tim Kaine and then co-founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of Health Warrior, a superfood brand recently acquired by PepsiCo. He is now an occasional advisor to PepsiCo and Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Richmond, while serving on a number of growth consumer brand boards, as an advisor to consumer-facing venture and private equity firms and working on a book about the American state of food, according to a release.
“We are just now getting started,” Creighton said. “The five of us are committed to working together and working with the governor to make sure that we can be effective.”
The Cannabis Control Authority Board of Directors is set to work with the 21-person Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board, which will serve as an expert advisory council to the Board. Additionally, the Council must approve any health-related regulations before the CCA can finalize them.
“There’s no secret that the Black community has been historically not just marginalized, but really negatively impacted, and so I hope that we can do things that will support the community, that will bring more equity,” Creighton said. “This is a great opportunity for us to be very thoughtful and to take our time to do things in a way and set a foundation that will last for quite some time.”