JUNEAU — Gov. Mike Dunleavy is bringing back a marijuana advocate to the board that regulates Alaska’s legal cannabis industry after his earlier appointment of a marijuana skeptic was rejected by lawmakers.
Dunleavy’s office said Thursday that he has appointed Bruce Schulte to the Marijuana Control Board.
Schulte was involved in the 2014 initiative that legalized the use of marijuana by people 21 and older in Alaska. He previously served on the board and was a chairman.
Schulte was booted in 2016 by then-Gov. Bill Walker, whose spokeswoman at the time said Schulte’s approach to the staff and administrative process was not satisfactory and that Walker wanted a change.
Schulte had said he butted heads with then-Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Director Cynthia Franklin. She no longer holds that position.
Earlier this year, Dunleavy appointed Vivian Stiver to a seat that had been held by Brandon Emmett, an industry representative.
At the time, Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said it was no secret that Stiver "holds a certain skepticism for legal marijuana use," a view he said other Alaskans shared. But he said Dunleavy thought she would bring a valuable perspective to the board, which has public health, rural, public safety and industry representation.
Stiver was involved in a failed 2017 effort to ban marijuana operations in Fairbanks, and her appointment was criticized by the industry. Lawmakers failed to confirm her.
Dunleavy’s office said Thursday she has been appointed to a different board.
Shuckerow said by email Thursday that Dunleavy nominated Schulte after discussions with stakeholders both in and out of the marijuana industry. Schulte would fill out the five-member board. He would be considered a public member, Shuckerow said.
Schulte is among the nominees for various boards and commissions announced Thursday that are subject to confirmation by the Legislature.
Earlier this year, Commerce Department Commissioner Julie Anderson outlined for employees Dunleavy’s plans for that department. A section on expected legislation from Dunleavy included repeal of the Alcoholic Beverage Control and Marijuana Control boards, with the intent to transfer the authority and responsibilities of the boards to the commissioner. Such legislation was not introduced this year.
Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, praised Schulte's appointment.
Schulte said the message he sensed from the administration is that they want business to succeed.
“This certainly appears to be a step in that direction and if that is the goal, then I’m happy to help,” he said.