US (CT): Former cannabis CEO overseeing state regulation raises eyebrows

A former cannabis executive is now overseeing the state’s enforcement of the industry, drawing concerns from cannabis and hemp advocates about conflicts of interest and competition. Jennifer Mandzuk, former CEO at Theraplant, a licensed cannabis producer in Watertown, is now a cannabis program manager with the Department of Consumer Protection.

“It’s pretty common across all of the industries that we regulate to hire subject matter experts who worked in the industry,” DCP spokeswoman Kaitlyn Krasselt said. The position oversees the investigation and enforcement of Connecticut’s laws and regulations around the sale of both medicinal and recreational cannabis.

Mandzuk worked at Therplant for nearly nine years, including the last eight months as CEO. She touted, among other things, helping the company expand its medical cannabis operation to receive a license to make products for the state’s adult recreational market.

Some advocates who want to see more competition in the state’s cannabis marketplace said the hire sends the wrong message. “I believe it looks like a conflict of interest,” said Brant Smith, CEO of hemp grower Hydroclonix LLC.


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