Here’s the piece……….
WASHINGTON – Dustin McDonald, the director of the Government Finance Officers Association’s federal liaison center, is leaving GFOA on Friday to lead a marijuana technology company’s government relations practice.
Emily Brock, currently a senior policy advisor with GFOA’s federal liaison center, will take over for McDonald.
“Emily is fantastic and probably head and shoulders above where I was coming into this job,” he said.
McDonald will be moving to California, his home state, and said that while leaving GFOA is “bittersweet,” the job at Weedmaps was an opportunity that emerged that he couldn’t pass up.
“I have gotten the chance to work with a lot of great folks here in the industry and folks that are dedicated to the industry and to making the market the best that it can be,” McDonald said. “I hope there will be opportunities for our paths to cross as the marijuana industry takes off and perhaps might have a little overlap with muni finance.”
Weedmaps is the oldest and largest marijuana technology company in the world, McDonald said. It connects people with local marijuana dispensaries, doctors, delivery options, as well as provides business-to-business and business-to-customer software for growing companies. The company also owns marijuana.com and cannabis.com, both sites devoted to providing news and information about the marijuana industry.
McDonald’s main role will be to work with state and local governments, both those that have adopted the drug for recreational use and those that have not, as they consider creating policies to regulate and manage the emerging industry given existing state and federal laws. At the federal level, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., have introduced legislation that, among other things would decriminalize the drug and allow veterans and people with chronic health conditions to have access to it.
“It’s kind of this concept of reforming state and local laws that is really taking off,” he said. “Weedmaps is very interested in continuing to work in those states [that have legalized marijuana recreationally] as well as … with states that are working to reform their laws to generate the best policy that organizes the regulated industry.”
Most of the work will be focused on policies related to public safety, public health, and economic growth of the industry given that some federal and state laws make using banks for the financial side of the direct-sale business difficult.
McDonald said the work he has done with GFOA since starting in January 2013 will be helpful because it has given him a more comprehensive understanding of where state and local governments are from a financial perspective.
He added that as many governments are still trying to “feel their way out” of the economic crisis in 2008, many might look to the marijuana industry as a place to improve their finances.
“I don’t know if there will be an interest from state and local governments in trying to do something like [tobacco bonds] but I think one of the core components in any discussion of what is going on with state and local governments is their fiscal situation,” McDonald said.
He added, “There are not that many industries as you look around right now that are growing as fast and have the job generating and economic development potential of the marijuana industry. You’re not only talking about traditional business like dispensaries or grow operations; you’re talking about delivery services, health services, and technology. It’s kind of a monster when you look at all of its parts together.”