Governor Wes Moore today announced the appointment of Audrey L. Johnson as Acting Executive Director of the Office of Social Equity and Courtney Davis as Deputy Director.
Johnson’s nomination will be submitted to the Senate for confirmation during the 2024 Legislative Session.
The Office of Social Equity, an independent agency established by the Cannabis Reform Act of 2023, is charged with providing resources and support for historically disadvantaged individuals and businesses seeking to enter the adult-use cannabis market. The vital responsibilities of the office include implementing technical assistance programs for qualifying social equity applicants and licensees, reviewing regulations and laws through an economic equity and social justice lens, and supporting key programs including the Community Repair and Reinvestment Fund and the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund.
“Acting Executive Director Johnson and Deputy Director Davis are exceptionally talented and committed leaders who have dedicated their professional careers to eliminating barriers to economic opportunity and promoting social justice,” said Gov. Moore. “We were very thoughtful and intentional in selecting the leadership of this agency, and I have full confidence in their ability to ensure that social equity and economic inclusion remain key pillars of Maryland’s adult-use cannabis industry.”
Johnson brings more than a decade of experience leading programs and strategies that promote economic development, equity, and inclusion. Since 2021, Johnson has served as Senior Director for Economic Innovation and Strategy for the Johns Hopkins University and Health System, where she drove the anchor institution’s key initiatives and programs in the Baltimore region – including impact investments in economic and neighborhood development, health care, and education. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins as Director of Economic Development, she spent 8 years at Kaiser Permanente, holding senior roles in supply chain enterprise systems, procurement, supplier diversity, and economic impact strategy. Johnson also is an active civic leader, serving as president of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives, a member of the Greater Washington Partnership’s Capital Region Rail Vision Advisory Committee, the DC Community Anchor Partnership Network Advisory Board, and Art with a Heart Board of Directors.
“I’m honored by Governor Moore’s trust in me to lead this new agency whose sole focus is ensuring economic inclusion and social equity in Maryland’s cannabis industry,” said Johnson. “With the support of the Moore-Miller Administration and in partnership with legislators, industry stakeholders, and advocacy organizations, Maryland can – and will – be a national leader in fostering access and economic opportunities for historically marginalized communities in the adult-use cannabis market.”
Davis most recently served as Executive Director of Marijuana Matters, a Washington, D.C.-based national advocacy organization focused on advancing economic inclusion, social equity, and restorative justice in cannabis public policy. Before becoming Executive Director, she served as Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations of the organization. Davis also spent more than 6 years on Capitol Hill, holding various roles in the office of U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. She is a member of the Junior League of Washington.
“I’m honored to join the newly established Office of Social Equity (OSE) and to support Maryland’s commitment to crafting a thriving equitable cannabis industry that reflects the diverse fabric of the state,” said Davis. “OSE is poised to collaborate with the deeply engaged MCA leadership team, community members, legislators, and cannabis business owners to execute the governor’s vision of creating a new chapter in cannabis focused on equity and economic growth – a chapter that I look forward to being a part of.”
In addition, Governor Moore announced appointments to the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council under the Maryland Department of Health. Established by the General Assembly in 2022 through the passage of House Bill 837, the Advisory Council will study and identify recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly on the public health impacts of cannabis legalization and strategies to mitigate youth access, misuse, and addiction to cannabis.
“I am grateful to these leaders, experts, and public servants for agreeing to serve on this critically important council,” said Gov. Moore. “As Maryland joins a growing number of states in establishing an adult-use cannabis market, we must ensure we have the right laws, policies, and strategies in place to safeguard public health, promote safe and responsible use, and prevent underage consumption, drugged driving, and misuse of cannabis products.”
Governor Moore’s appointments to the Advisory Council are:
- Dorothy Lennig, Incoming Director, Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services
- Dr. Madhumi Mitra, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore
- Mathew Swinburne, Associate Director, The Network for Public Health Eastern Region, University of Maryland Francis Carey King School of Law
- Dr. Deondra D. Asike, M.D., Clinical Associate, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Dr. Leigh Vinocur, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Founder, Ananda Medical Practice
- Dr. Leah Sera, PharmD., Associate Professor, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
- Dr. David A. Gorelick, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, Baltimore
- Jocelyn Bratton-Payne, MSW, Director of Substance Use Disorder Programs, New Hope Treatment Center
- Karrissa Miller, partner at Pinnacle CT, LLC, a Maryland independent testing laboratory, and founding partner at US Cannalytics
Advisory Council members are not subject to Senate confirmation and serve four-year terms. The Advisory Council elects its chair.