Wilits News Reports


Mendocino County cannabis program manager Kelly Overton abruptly resigned from his position yesterday, June 20, just four months after taking over the job in February.

Mendocino County created the cannabis program manager position in July of 2017 to help coordinate the county’s cannabis programs and to manage cannabis strategies, policies, and programs for the county. Issues like providing permits and licenses through the Mendocino County Cannabis Program and overseeing the county’s Cannabis Cultivation and Facilities Programs fall under the position’s jurisdiction.

As part of his job, Overton routinely gave updates to the board on various aspects of cannabis programs. However, he did not appear at a recent Board of Supervisors cannabis meeting on June 12 and did not give any explanation for his absence. Overton did not respond to request for comments. However, he announced on a Facebook post on June 19 that he was walking from Southern California to Mexico in a bid to raise money and awareness for refugees.

“I believe the separation of children from their parents by US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) is both criminal and immoral. I am tired of the talk so I am going to walk. I am walking 125 miles from Palm Springs, CA to Mexicali, Mexico to raise money for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). The first leg of the walk will be from Palm Springs to Coachella this weekend – starting Saturday morning (June 23) in Palm Springs (details coming). I will proceed from Coachella to Mexicali beginning the morning of Monday, June 25. I hope you will join me in spirit or on foot!”

Supervisor Dan Hamburg said that because it is a personnel matter, he could not say any more than the board had accepted Overton’s resignation on June 20. However, Hamburg acknowledged that the county cannabis program manager is a critical position to fill in Mendocino County, and he assumes that the county will reach out and hire someone.

Overton has previously worked as a process improvement and disaster management consultant with nonprofits and municipalities. He has a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, a Master of Public Health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, a Bachelor of Arts from University of Massachusetts/Boston and a Graduate Certificate in Conservation Biology from Columbia University’s Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability.

Overton’s resignation marks another setback for the county in its attempts to keep people to manage its various cannabis programs. The county’s previous agricultural commissioner Joe Moreo resigned on March 5 after only five days on the job. Moreo had previously worked as the agricultural commissioner for Modoc County but left after he found that certain parts of the position were not what he had expected. Interim Agricultural Commissioner Diane Curry left the job in late March after she notified the board of supervisor of her retirement.