Connecticut Appoints First Cannabis Ombudsperson in US History to Champion Patient Rights

Connecticut’s Acting Healthcare Advocate Sean King today announced that Erin Gorman Kirk will serve as the first Cannabis Ombudsperson of the state of Connecticut.

Erin Gorman Kirk, the first “Cannabis Ombudsperson” in the US.

According to a press release sent yesterday, “Erin is an accomplished lawyer, consumer advocate and entrepreneur.  As the founder of Cannabis Government Strategies and President of The Jamison Group, LLC, Erin has been influential in the development of cannabis and hemp policy in several states, including Connecticut.”

Her background includes “extensive professional experience advising and supporting individuals, businesses and government officials seeking to navigate the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. She has published and spoken extensively on regulation and other topics related to cannabis.  Most importantly, Erin has also demonstrated a deep empathy and compassion for the needs of medical cannabis patients, and particularly veterans and seniors, who have struggled to maintain access to their therapies since the rapid expansion of the recreational use industry.”

The Office of the Cannabis Ombudsperson is unique to Connecticut. Erin will be responsible for monitoring the palliative use of marijuana and the medical cannabis system, and will advocate for the interests of qualifying patients and caregivers. “As the first Cannabis Ombudsperson in the nation,” Kirk said.

“I’m excited to take on the responsibility of being the vigilant guardian of patient interests, making sure that every decision and action taken by producers aligns with the highest standards of care and compassion. We will not only monitor but actively engage with all stakeholders to improve the palliative marijuana market, making Connecticut a model state for patient advocacy in the cannabis sector.”

The selection process was rigorous and competitive. According to King, “Erin was selected from a field of over 800 applicants, with input from patient advocates, as well as the Governor’s Office and the Office of House Majority Leader Jason Rojas.  Throughout the vetting process, Erin displayed the optimal blend of empathy, energy, political awareness, legal acumen, subject matter knowledge and industry experience to hold this unique position and lead Connecticut into the future of legalized cannabis use.

“I congratulate Erin Gorman Kirk on being appointed as the first Cannabis Ombudsperson for the state of Connecticut. Erin brings a wealth of experience to the position and is well prepared to navigate the complex and uncharted course of cannabis legalization and all of the moving parts that need to work together for a smooth transition,” Rep. Rojas said. “I look forward to the process ahead and am confident with her at the helm. Thanks to the Office of the Healthcare Advocate for managing the search process.”

This appointment comes at an important inflection point in our country’s relationship with cannabis and the cannabis industry.  Earlier this month, the federal government announced that it is on the cusp of redesignating cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug, which will have far-reaching and still-undetermined social and economic impacts. With this appointment, Connecticut is now poised to respond quickly and lead the nation into the newest era of cannabis regulation.

Erin Gorman Kirk’s first date of service as Cannabis Ombudsperson will be Tuesday, May 28, 2024.  The Office of the Cannabis Ombudsperson was established as an independent state agency by the General Assembly through Public Act 23-79, and receives administrative support from the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

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