Marijuana

FAIRBANKS—Gov. Bill Walker said he plans to appoint an industry member to the Marijuana Control Board seat left vacant by the removal of one of the board's two industry members earlier this month.

Walker said Thursday he's still reviewing applicants for the position.

"No individual (to name at this time), but it will be done within the statutory period of time and my intention is to replace it with an industry person," he said.

Walker has 30 days from Aug. 2 to appoint a new board member.

The statement addresses concerns that Walker could be attempting to shift the board away from its generally pro-industry approach. The concerns were raised by the abrupt removal of industry member Bruce Schulte from the board earlier this month.

State law says the five-member board must include at least one industry position in addition to a rural member, a public health member and a public safety member and that one seat can be filled by either a member of the public or another marijuana industry member.

The state notice about the vacancy lists it as either a public or industry member seat, raising worry from the industry that a potential public member appointment could dilute the say of industry in its own regulation just as the industry readies to go into business.

When asked if he might attempt to appoint a woman or minority member to the board, addressing long-standing concerns about diversity on the board, Walker said he would like to but made no guarantees.

"On every board that I’ve done I’ve looked at diversity in every way I can," he said. “The marijuana board is a little different because, for example, it’s very specific. You might find the person you want but they don’t fit into that particular spot. I know I could do a public person, which makes it a whole lot broader, but I’m not out to change the balance of the board.”

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.