A longtime Colorado lobbyist and former marijuana executive, Kristen Thomson, has been appointed as New Mexico’s new Cannabis Control Division director. The division is responsible for developing the state’s adult-use framework. After serving as a lobbyist for over 15 years, Thomson was most recently the director of government affairs for The Green Solution (somewhat recently acquired by Columbia Care), Colorado’s largest vertically integrated marijuana operator.
Kristen Thomson graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a graduate certificate in strategic communications from the University of Colorado. In her résumé, Thomson describes herself as “a strategic and forward-thinking senior leader with extensive experience leading external affairs strategy development and execution.”
Thomson brings years of experience in the cannabis industry, and colleagues describe her as confident and knowledgeable. By selecting Thomson, New Mexico legislators hope to avoid pitfalls other states encountered when transitioning from medical to recreational cannabis. Adam Goers is senior vice president of corporate affairs for Columbia Care, a multistate cannabis conglomerate where Thomson most recently worked. He says Thomson brings a wealth of experience and unflinching decisiveness.
“They will know where she stands on something,” said Adam Goers, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Columbia Care, a multistate cannabis conglomerate where Thomson most recently worked. “She’s going to call balls and strikes, and that’s what a good regulator does.”
“Kristen’s experience advancing social equity and environmental sustainability while working with small cannabis producers and large companies will be invaluable as [ Cannabis Control Division] CCD continues its mission to support a thriving cannabis industry in New Mexico,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the CCD.
New Mexico’s cannabis industry has an oft-strained relationship with state officials. New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health, the state’s largest medical cannabis operation, has had legal disputes with the state over plant-growing restrictions and dispensary expansion. Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health, hopes Thomson’s experience will improve relations between the state government and marijuana businesses.
“I am hopeful that Ms. Thomson’s extensive industry experience will provide some balance to treating the operators more collaboratively,” said Rodriguez.
Thomson described her appointment as director on her LinkedIn page as “heading up a team dedicated to creating an equitable and sustainable cannabis regulatory framework for the state of New Mexico. Proud to be working for Governor (Michelle) Lujan-Grisham to support her vision for cannabis legalization for the people of New Mexico.”
New Mexico retail sales are scheduled to start by April 2022, with projections for annual sales of $150 million in the first full year and $425 million in the fourth year.