USA: The Cannabis Regulators Association

USA: The Cannabis Regulators Association

It has now been a few months since the CRA announced its launch.

We thought it would be worthwhile quickly highlighting how to get in touch with the organisation and which state regulators are now onboard.

They can be contacted at the links below

Membership Information

CANNRA founding members include the principal state regulators from nineteen jurisdictions: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington.

While current members represent state and territorial level regulatory agencies, CANNRA will be offering membership opportunities for county and municipal cannabis regulators in the near future. Local county and municipal regulatory partners are encouraged to inquire about membership through our membership signup form. Membership is limited to regulators and representatives from relevant government offices.

Membership is not available to cannabis industry participants or advocacy organizations. 

Membership Benefits

CANNRA members will be able to access a national registry of member regulators, resources for cannabis policy development and staff training, and will have the ability to access, and participate in the development of model standards and best practices for cannabis regulation.

Members will also be eligible to attend exclusive “Regulator Roundtable” conferences and programs, and receive legislative analyses, policy tracking data, and bulletins on current issues and events in the cannabis industry and regulatory arena.

Additional Benefits include:

  •  Institutional knowledge and subject matter experts in the cannabis industry and regulatory approaches for industrial hemp, medical cannabis, and adult use cannabis.

  • Updated website with Members Only privileges (e.g. presentations, educational resources)

  • Access to cannabis policy tracking and analysis from member jurisdictions

  • Access to market data and public health data from member jurisdictions

  • Access to educational programing and training events

  • Access to regulator networking and peer development events

  • Eligibility to attend biannual “Regulator Roundtable” conferences

  • Eligibility to attend regulator webinars featuring subject matter experts

  • Opportunity to participate in planning committees, conference panels, and special committees

  • Access to association newsletters, alerts, and notices on current issues and events in the industry and regulatory arena·

  • Access to a national registry of member regulators and their contact information

  • Resources for cannabis policy development and staff training

  • Ability to access, and participate in the development of, model regulatory standards, administrative resources, and best practices for cannabis regulation including but not limited to: packaging, labeling, advertising, testing, licensing, social equity, seed to sale tracking, inspections, enforcement, pesticide use, product approval, tax structures, tax collection, patient qualification and enrollment, product processing and manufacturing, industrial hemp and CBD products, banking, payment processing

  • Ability to access, and participate in the development of, model public education campaigns and  public health monitoring systems.

  • Access to federal cannabis policy and legislative analysis

  • Access to exchanges and forums between members and third party stakeholders such as cannabis industry associations, advocacy groups, academic institutions, research organizations, federal regulatory agencies and federal elected officials.

Their Leadership


Norman Birenbaum


Norman Birenbaum was appointed as New York State’s Director of Cannabis Programs in December of 2019. As Director, he oversees the regulation, administration, and policy development for the state’s medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs. Mr. Birenbaum is also charged with spearheading Governor Cuomo’s proposal to legalize cannabis for adult use.

Before joining the Cuomo Administration, Norman established the Rhode Island Office of Cannabis Regulation and served as the office’s first Implementation Director where he oversaw Rhode Island’s medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs and led Governor Gina Raimondo’s efforts to legalize cannabis for adult use. Norman previously served on the staffs of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Governor Deval Patrick.

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Rick Garza

First Vice President

Rick Garza is the Agency Director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) and has been with the agency since 1997. During his career with the WSLCB he has also held the positions of Legislative and Tribal Liaison, Policy Director and Deputy Director.

Prior to joining the WSLCB, Rick served 13 years as a staff member for the Washington State Legislature, including five years with the Washington State Senate and eight years with the state House. His legislative assignments included Policy Analyst in the state Senate, House of Representatives Staff Director, and adviser to House and Senate leadership.

Rick is a past President of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) and presided during 2012-13. In 2016, he was inducted into the NCSLA Hall of Fame.


Jim Burack

Second Vice President

Jim Burack was appointed Director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) in 2016, after joining MED as Chief of Investigations in 2014.  Prior positions include police chief and town administrator in Milliken CO, Counsel and Director of Operations with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in Washington, DC., Westminster (CO) Police Department patrol officer, and U.S. Senate staffer.

A U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Colonel, Jim’s reserve assignments have included senior liaison officer to FEMA Region VIII (Denver); Staff Judge Advocate at Marine Forces Pacific, Hawaii; and Department of Defense Inspector General evaluator at the Pentagon.  Active duty tours include civil affairs officer in Ramadi, Iraq in 2004-05; civil affairs team leader in Kosovo in 1999; and military prosecutor, security platoon commander, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.

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Andrew Brisbo

Third Vice President

Andrew Brisbo was appointed by Governor Whitmer to lead Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) in April 2019. The agency oversees the commercial licensing under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act as well as the medical marijuana registry card program under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. MRA’s mission is to establish Michigan as the national model for a regulatory program that stimulates business growth while preserving safe consumer access to marijuana. Andrew has been in licensing and regulation with the State of Michigan since 2004, including experience with the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Department of State, and occupational and health professional licensing.

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Tyler Klimas

Secretary Treasurer

Tyler Klimas was appointed by Governor Steve Sisolak as the first executive director of the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) on January 1, 2020.  The CCB was established in 2019 to take over regulatory oversight of the cannabis industry in Nevada and currently oversees all areas of its licensing and operations. Protecting the public health and safety of Nevadans and visitors while holding cannabis licensees to the highest ethical standards are cornerstones of the CCB’s mission. Prior to his appointment, Klimas owned a Washington, D.C.-based government affairs firm supporting the Nevada Office of the Governor. In this role, Klimas worked for multiple Nevada governors advocating for the state’s interests in a wide range of policy areas on Capitol Hill.

Their Current Members (April 2021)

Arizona Department of Health Services – Division of Public Health Licensing Services (Thomas Salow, Branch Chief)

California Bureau of Cannabis Control (Tamara Colson, Acting Director)

Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (Jim Burack, Director)

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (Lila McKinley, Supervising Staff Attorney)

Delaware Division of Public Health – Office of Medical Marijuana (Paul Hyland, Director)

District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (Fred Moosally, Director)

Florida Department of Health – Office of Medical Marijuana Use (Chris Ferguson, Director)

Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (Andrew Turnage, Executive Director)

Hawaii Department of Health – Medical Cannabis Dispensary Licensing Section (Michele Nakata, Supervisor)

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Division of Professional Regulation (Danielle Perry, Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer)

Iowa Department of Public Health – Office of Medical Cannabidiol (Owen Parker,

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (Tabitha Irvin, Executive Counsel & Medical Marijuana Program Director)

Maine Office of Marijuana Policy (Erik Gundersen, Director)

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (Shawn Collins, Executive Director)

Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (Lori Dodson, Deputy Director)

Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (Andrew Brisbo, Executive Director)

Minnesota Department of Health – Office of Medical Cannabis (Chris Tholkes, Director)

Montana Department of Revenue (Becky Schlauch, Alcoholic Beverage Control Administrator)

Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (Tyler Klimas, Executive Director)

New Jersey Department of Health – Division of Medicinal Marijuana (Jeff Brown, Assistant Commissioner)

New York State Department of Health (Norman Birenbaum, Director of Cannabis Programs)

North Dakota Department of Health – Division of Medical Marijuana (Jason Wahl, Director)

Oregon Liquor Control Commission (Steve Marks, Executive Director)

Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation – Office of Cannabis Regulation (Matt Santacroce, Chief)

South Dakota Department of Revenue (Michael Houdyshell, Chief Legal Counsel)

Utah Department of Health – Center for Medical Cannabis (Rich Oborn, Director)

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (Rick Garza, Agency Director)

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