June 17, 2022

NM cannabis regulation director resigns

After less than a year in the position, the director of New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division has left the division. 

A spokesperson for the state’s Regulation and Licensing Division, which oversees the Cannabis Control Division, confirmed that Kristen Thomson resigned from her role as director of the division. 

In an email to NM Political Report, regulation and licensing spokesperson Bernice Geiger said Thomson’s resignation was in effect immediately. 

“Yesterday, June 16, 2022, Kristen Thomson submitted her resignation from the position of Director of the Cannabis Control Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department (RLD). Her resignation was effective at that time,” Geiger wrote. “We thank Kristen for her service to the Cannabis Control Division and the State of New Mexico and wish her success in her future endeavors.”

Prior to working for the Cannabis Control Division, Thomson was a lobbyist in Colorado. According to her lobbying company’s website, cannabis was one of a handful of issues Thomspon worked on. 

Geiger did not specify the reason for Thomson’s sudden departure but in a phone interview on Friday, Thomson said she never planned on the division director role being a “forever job” for her. 

“I am a creator, not a regulator,” Thomson told NM Political Report. “That just was never going to be the role for me.”

Thomson said she has long had a passion for helping to come up with “big policy ideas” that help to create positive economic change on the community level and that she had not imagined that she would ever head a government agency. She said she took the position because of the “values of the governor and the legislature” in crafting what Thomson called a unique cannabis legalization law. 

Thomson said she is “honored” to have been a part of the Cannabis Control Division and praised the work of the entire division. 

“Never in my life did I think that would be something that I worked on,” Thomson said. “I’m so proud, of the work that was accomplished.”

Thomson became the first director of the division in Nov. 2021, just months after the enactment of the Cannabis Regulation Act established the new division.  

The same month Thomson was hired, John Blair resigned from his role as deputy superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Division. Blair took a position as city manager in Santa Fe and Victor Reyes, a former Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham staffer, took over the second in command position under Superintendent Linda Trujillo. 

Geiger said Trujillo appointed Carolina Barrera as the interim director of the Cannabis Control Division. Barrera, Geiger said, previously worked under Thomson, as the deputy director of business operations.

Thomson said she is not sure what’s next for her, but will be looking for her next big opportunity. 

“I’m going to hang out in my new home of Santa Fe for a little bit,” she said. “Coming down off of that level of excitement is hard. So I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to enjoy my new home for a bit and just look at what opportunities are out there, and what’s the next great role for me.”

NOTE: A previous version of this story stated that Linda Trujillo would oversee the Cannabis Control Division. After publication, the Regulation and Licensing updated NM Political Report that Carolina Barrera was appointed as the interim director of the Cannabis Control Division.