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December 2, 2022

Maine Office of Cannabis Policy names Brookings Institution vet to top post

According to the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy, retail sales of adult-use cannabis were just less than $15.3 million in October 2022, the most recent month available. Annual sales through October 2022 total $129.6 million, compared to $82 million in all of 2021.
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John Hudak, a political scientist and public policy analyst with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., will succeed Erik Gunderson as Maine's cannabis regulator starting on Dec. 30.

Hudak's appointment as director of the Augusta-based Office of Cannabis Policy was announced Thursday by Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial services. The announcement cited Hudak as a leading expert on state, national and international cannabis policy.

Gundersen, OCP’s inaugural director, stepped down in October 2022 and launched a cannabis consulting firm called ERG Strategies LLC. He is also a senior advisor with Cannabis Public Policy Consulting, which studies how U.S. states regulate cannabis.

Courtesy / Brookings Institution
John Hudak will start his new role as director of Maine's Office of Cannabis Policy on Dec. 30.

“With the appointment of John Hudak as OCP’s next director, Maine will remain in a position to effectively and responsibly license and regulate cannabis establishments statewide,” Figueroa said. “John has an impressive background in cannabis policy and research, and we are excited about the experience and knowledge he will bring to OCP and the Department.” 

The Office of Cannabis Policy, created in February 2019, is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized cannabis in Maine, including the Medical Use of Cannabis Program and the Adult Use Cannabis Program. 

“I have a significant appreciation for the ways in which Maine has implemented medical and adult use cannabis,” Hudak said in Thursday's announcement. “I am eager to continue the work of OCP in addressing existing policies and regulations and in engaging with stakeholders to ensure that both of Maine’s cannabis programs thrive.” 

Hudak brings more than a decade of experience at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in the nation's capital, where he served as deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management and as a senior fellow in Governance Studies. For the past decade, he has led Brookings’ research into cannabis policy, regulation, implementation and politics.

In addition to his roles at Brookings Institution, Hudak has worked as a consultant to numerous state and local governments on designing regulations, analyzing data, and improving policymaking related to cannabis. 

He holds a bachelor's degree in political science and economics from the University of Connecticut, and both a master's and doctorate degree in political science from Vanderbilt University.

"John’s work as a public policy analyst has given him the tools necessary for navigating all aspects of the cannabis landscape,” said Vernon Malloch, OCP’s interim director. “He offers an academic perspective that will be a welcome addition to the OCP team. We look forward to his leadership.” 

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