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US (OH): James Canepa to lead Division of Cannabis Control

Department of Commerce Director Sherry Maxfield announced the appointment of James V. Canepa as the first Superintendent of the Division of Cannabis Control. The Division is poised to ensure the safety and regulation of both medical and non-medical cannabis, which is now legal for consumers to possess in Ohio.

"Jim's proven leadership and innovative approach make him the perfect choice to navigate this new area of retail and regulatory responsibility," said Maxfield. “His diverse experience and impressive regulatory credentials will be instrumental in developing a non-medical cannabis program that aligns with the expectations of Ohioans.”

Canepa has served six successful years as the Superintendent of the Division of Liquor Control and provided oversight for Ohio Liquor (OHLQ). His track record of implementing effective solutions has earned him the trust of the liquor industry and consumers alike. Under his recent leadership, the Department modernized the state’s liquor inventory control system and introduced retail innovations such as barrel programs and bottle lotteries. In recent weeks, he has been advising the Medical Marijuana Control Program on rulemaking options related to Issue 2. Canepa’s new role will be effective on January 1.

Canepa has served in various leadership roles in state government, including First Assistant Attorney General to the Ohio Attorney General, Chief Counsel for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Deputy Inspector General with the Office of the Ohio Inspector General, and Chief of Staff and Legal Affairs for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

In most of these positions, Canepa had the opportunity to startup a new program or find solutions for long-running programs.

Canepa and the Division of Liquor Control team have received numerous accolades for their innovative work. OHLQ was named by Stateways Magazine as “Best Off-Premise Program” and “Best Consumer Education Program” in 2023, “Best Licensee Education Program” and “Best Trade Partnership Program” in 2022. The program was also recognized as a “Top 100 Retailer” by Beverage Dynamics in 2022 and 2023.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to implement a first-of-its-kind program for the state in a safe, responsible, and efficient way,” said Canepa. “I’ve been fortunate to spend years working within both law enforcement and the retail industry. Both experiences will be central to the work that has already begun in this area inside the Department of Commerce.”

Canepa began his career with the Franklin County, Ohio, Prosecutor’s Office, where he served as an Appellate Prosecutor and a Senior Trial Prosecutor. He worked on high-profile and complicated cold cases within the county.

Canepa holds a Juris Doctor from Capital University Law School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University. A proud father and grandfather, Canepa resides in Hilliard with his wife, Holly.

In addition, Greg McIlvaine, who has served as Policy Director for the Medical Marijuana Control Program for the past four years, will assume a leadership role within the newly created Division of Cannabis Control.

"Greg's exceptional performance in his current role and his transition into another leadership position will help us develop a new division that Ohioans understand and trust,” Maxfield added.

Deputy Superintendent of the Division of Liquor Control, Paul Kulwinski, will serve as the interim superintendent of that division. Kulwinski has been with DOLC since 2018.


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