Cannabis Regulators Association Welcomes First Executive Director, Dr. Gillian Schauer & New Board Members, New States

Dr. Gillian Schauer has been named Executive Director of the Cannabis Regulators Association which has expanded to 35 member states and territories.

PORTLAND, OR. – The Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of cannabis regulators established to share institutional knowledge and develop cannabis best practices, has named Gillian Schauer, PhD, MPH as the organization’s first Executive Director. Dr. Schauer comes to CANNRA with nearly two decades of work in public health and drug policy. Dr. Schauer previously founded and led a multi-state learning collaborative on public health and cannabis for state health officials. She regularly provides consultation to state and federal agencies on the development of cannabis regulation, policy trends, and their outcomes. Dr. Schauer had been serving as a Senior Advisor to CANNRA and its members for the last several years, aiding in program development, policy tracking, and regulator roundtable convenings.

“I am honored to continue working with CANNRA in this new capacity,” Dr. Schauer said. “It’s a dynamic time with many states legalizing adult and medical cannabis use, and with ongoing discussion around federal legalization,” she added. “Cannabis regulators have practical knowledge and valuable lessons to share with state, municipal, and federal officials. Among other things, I look forward to facilitating and furthering that important information exchange.”

In addition to hiring Dr. Schauer as Executive Director, CANNRA members voted in additional members to their Executive Committee. Michele Nakata, Supervisor of the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Licensing Program at the Hawaii Department of Health was elected CANNRA’s Third Vice President. Chris Tholkes, Director of the Office of Medical Cannabis at the Minnesota Department of Health, was elected as an at-large board member, as were Steve Marks, Executive Director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, and Andrew Turnage, Executive Director at the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission.

These board members join CANNRA President Norman Birenbaum, Director of Cannabis Program in New York State, CANNRA First Vice President Rick Garza, Executive Director of the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Association, CANNRA Second Vice President, Andrew Brisbo, Executive Director of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency, and CANNRA Treasurer, Tyler Klimas, Executive Director of the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board. Additional information about CANNRA’s leadership can be found HERE

“The Cannabis Regulators Association is pleased to announce new additions to our organization’s leadership,” said CANNRA President Norman Birenbaum. “Dr. Schauer’s work informing and advising state and federal agencies on cannabis policy is unparalleled. We are thrilled to welcome her as our first Executive Director during this pivotal time for cannabis legalization and policy reform” he said.

“Supervisor Nakata and Directors Tholkes, Marks, and Turnage represent medical and adult-use jurisdictions from across the United States with diverse approaches to regulating cannabis,” said CANNRA Vice President Rick Garza. “We congratulate them on their election to CANNRA’s executive committee and welcome their experience and leadership at a time when CANNRA’s membership, programing, and engagement continues to grow” he said.

CANNRA now has 35 member states and territories. In addition to the 19 founding member states (Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington), CANNRA welcomes cannabis regulators from Arizona, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Guam.

The Cannabis Regulators Association is not an advocacy group and takes no formal position for or against cannabis legalization, but rather seeks to provide local, state, and federal government jurisdictions with unbiased information to help make informed decisions when considering whether or how to legalize or expand regulated cannabis. The organization has more than a dozen special committees focused on information exchange, harmonization, and development of best practices across a range of cannabis policy areas from laboratory testing and product safety to social and economic equity to packaging, labeling, and advertising. More information about CANNRA is available at:

For more information about the Cannabis Regulators Association or to inquire about membership please visit or email

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