Hemp Entrepreneur Named Minnesota Marijuana Czar

The upcoming Minnesota Office of Cannabis Management now has a leader: Erin DuPree, founder of hemp goods store Loonacy Cannabis Co. in Apple Valley that sold low-dose THC products.

DuPree was named to the post by Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday, Minnesota Public Radio reported, chosen from a pool of 150 professionals who threw their hats into the ring for the job following Walz signing legalization into law in May. Recreational cannabis possession and consumption became legal Aug. 1.

In a statement, Walz called DuPree “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.”

DuPree was chosen in part for her business experience in hemp, Walz’s office said, and she’s now tasked with writing rules and regulations for the yet-to-launch recreational marijuana industry, which isn’t expected to come fully online until 2025.

That’s despite several Native American tribes already selling adult-use marijuana and a topsy-turvy hemp market that previously allowed intoxicating products to be sold in convenience stores. (DuPree’s store, Loonacy, will be sold so she can focus on the regulatory job full-time and avoid any conflicts of interest.)

DuPree starts Oct. 2, and job number one will be hiring nine employees before ramping up to 150 eventually, MPR reported. Then she’ll have to navigate writing regulations, sorting through business license applications, and create an enforcement system.

“Some of the challenges that other states have had, we’re going to try to avoid,” DuPree told MPR. “Being the 23rd state to legalize, we’re lucky enough to look back on the other 22 states, see what has worked and what hasn’t worked. And we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here.”

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