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Governor McKee, Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio Appoint Cannabis Advisory Board Members

RHODE ISLAND, August 24 - PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio today announced their appointments to the Cannabis Advisory Board. Per state statute, the Cannabis Advisory Board will work in collaboration with the Cannabis Control Commission to advise and issue recommendations on the use, commerce, regulation and effects of adult-use and medical cannabis within the state.

"These three appointments to the Cannabis Advisory Board represent a diverse slate of candidates who possess a wide range of experience that will prove critical in their new roles," said Governor McKee. "I thank each of them for stepping up for all Rhode Islanders as we continue to lay the groundwork for the future of cannabis in the Ocean State."

The board will consist of 11 voting members, three appointed by Governor McKee and four each by Speaker Shekarchi and President Ruggerio, and eight non-voting members.

Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio said, "Rhode Island's cannabis legalization law is aimed at more than simply ending the policy of prohibition. It is also about righting past wrongs, and building a new industry in as fair and equitable a manner as possible. This diverse advisory board brings a broad range of perspectives and insight to assist the Cannabis Control Commission in their mission. We are grateful to each of them for their willingness to serve our state in this way."

"I'd like to thank Governor McKee, Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio for their appointments to the Cannabis Advisory Board," said Kim Ahern, Chair of the Cannabis Control Commission. "I look forward to hearing from the Board on an array of topics, including public health, public safety, industry perspective, and social equity. I am appreciative for these individuals' service. They have an important role to play in advising the Cannabis Control Commission, as we carry out our statutory obligation to oversee the regulation, licensing and control of adult use and medical cannabis in our state."

The Cannabis Control Commission's next public listening tour meeting is on Friday, August 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Public Utilities Commission, 89 Jefferson Blvd. in Warwick. Although the public is welcome to attend in person, this is the Commission's only listening session that will allow for public comment to be given over Zoom. The Commission encourages members of the public to join online here.

Governor McKee's appointments:

Ronald Crosson II of Providence will serve as Chair and Social Equity Officer of the Cannabis Advisory Board. Crosson has been Executive Director of Urban Ventures, Inc. in Providence since 2018 where he assists entrepreneurs and micro-businesses in underserved communities across the state in diverse industries to help develop their business through consultation, training and education. Crosson currently serves on the board of the Providence Public Building Authority and Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island. Crosson has a bachelor's degree in finance from Penn State University.

Angela Bannerman Ankoma of Providence has been Vice President and Executive Director of Equity Leadership with the Rhode Island Foundation since November 2020 where she integrated a racial agenda in all areas of the Foundation and worked with colleagues to ensure successful integration into the Foundation's overall mission, strategy, fundraising, and operations. Previously, Ankoma was Executive Vice President and Director of Community Investment with the United Way of Rhode Island and served in multiple capacities with the Rhode Island Department of Health from 2008 to 2017.

Ankoma has a master's degree in public health from Columbia University, a Master of Science in Social Work, also from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies and Psychology from Connecticut College. She is currently pursuing a PhD in health leadership from the University of North Carolina.

Stuart J. Procter, Ph.D of Cumberland brings more than 20 years of experience in the analytical instrumentation industry, serving the cannabis industry for the past five years. Procter is also a co-founder and current Laboratory Director of PureVita Laboratories, a cannabis testing facility. He specializes in cannabis science, analytical chemistry, laboratory management, product and method development, among others.

Procter has a Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. He also has an undergraduate degree from Sheffield Hallam University, also in the U.K.

Speaker Shekarchi's appointments:

Angelyne E. Cooper-Bailey of Cranston is legal counsel in the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. She is an adjunct faculty member at Roger Williams University School of Law, her alma mater, and is a part-time Municipal Court Associate Judge in the City of Cranston. She is a former senior counsel at Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O'Gara, a former staff attorney for Rhode Island Legal Services, and was a law clerk to Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson.

Michael A. DiLauro of Warwick retired last year after a 41-year career in the Rhode Island Public Defenders Office. He was most recently the director of training and legislative liaison for the office, previously serving as an assistant public defender. He is the owner and manager of the Just Criminal Justice Group, which provides training, education and advocacy for individuals impacted by the justice system.

Melina Lodge of Warwick has been the executive director of the Housing Network of Rhode Island since 2015. Previously the program manager for the Community Housing Land Trust of Rhode Island, she was a research coordinator for Rhode Island Housing and was a strategic planner for both the Westerly Area Rest Meals WARM Inc. and for the Rhode Island Center Assisting those in Need (RI CAN).

Armand T. Lusi of Warwick, a principal of Evergreen Gardens LLC, is the president of the Rhode Island Cultivator Industry Association. Under the terms of the legislation, the Speaker must appoint a representative of the cultivation industry to the advisory board. Lusi is the president of Lusi Construction, a company founded by his father in 1950.

Senate President Ruggerio's appointments:

Emily R. Almeida of Cranston is quality and compliance manager for Green Thumb Industries – Rhode Island. Ms. Almeida is being appointed as the cannabis retail industry representative. A graduate of New England Institute of Technology, she has held various roles in the industry for Nature's Medicines, a Fall River dispensary, Curaleaf – Webster Cultivation, and, since 2021, for Green Thumb Industries.

Dr. Mary J. Archibald of North Providence has been a truancy officer and school social worker for Providence Public Schools since 1998 and an adjunct faculty member in Rhode Island College's Sociology Department and School of Social Work since 2003. She was previously a faculty professor in the Preparatory Enrollment Program at RIC and a social caseworker for DCYF. Dr. Archibald holds an MSW from Rhode Island College and a Ph.D in Social Work from Fordham University.

Dr. Dioscaris R. Garcia of Pawtucket is an experienced pharmacologist and microbiologist specializing in cell signaling and infectious diseases. He is an assistant professor and co-director of the Diane N. Weiss Center for Orthopedic Trauma Research at Brown University. He is an active researcher in novel cancer targets and therapeutics, as well as the development and characterization of antibiotic-independent antimicrobial surface coatings. An expert in pharmacological evaluation of drugs and production policies, Dr. Garcia brings to the board an intimate knowledge of cannabis and hemp-based production of CBD and other substances. He is a former consultant of purity testing and cGMP in Rhode Island, and an expert in the detection of additives and safe extraction methodologies for natural products. Dr. Garcia is a former medical technologies consultant specializing in opioid and synthetic drug overdoses. He holds a Ph.D in Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology from Brown University, and a BS in Microbiology from the University of Rhode Island.

Nicole M. Verdi, Esq. of Providence is an attorney and head of government affairs and policy, New England for Orsted Americas. She brings a range of business, government, and legal experience, having previously served as chief legal counsel to the President of the Senate and deputy chief of staff to former Governor Gina Raimondo, litigation associate at Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C., and law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. She earned her juris doctorate at Roger Williams University School of Law, and her BS in legal studies and political science at Roger Williams University.

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