Gov. Dunleavy makes interim director permanent at Alaska’s alcohol and marijuana agency


JUNEAU — Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named former Anchorage police officer Glen Klinkhart the permanent head of the state agency that regulates alcohol and marijuana in Alaska. Klinkhart has been the interim boss of the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office since November 2019.

In separate actions, the governor declined to reappoint several members of the boards that oversee the agency.

Klinkhart said the switch from interim to permanent director doesn’t change his “job performance.”

“It’s all the same to me and my staff, and I told the chief of staff that too,” he said.

Lacy Wilcox, president of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, said the move is a positive one.

“I think everybody on our board likes the guy,” she said.

Sarah Oates, president of CHARR, the state’s leading alcohol industry trade group, called the move “a good pick.”

“To my knowledge, I don’t think that there’s a difference in his authority from when he was interim, but I’m hopeful that the change will allow for things like hiring of essential staff to take place,” she said.

The agency has several funded-but-vacant positions, and a lack of manpower has slowed the processing of licenses, Wilcox said. That has frustrated alcohol and marijuana businesses, because the positions are funded by fees.

Oates had worked for AMCO until two years ago. Her position is still vacant, she said.

The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office is a quasi-judicial state agency, and Klinkhart can now be removed only for misconduct or by a majority vote of both the state’s alcohol and marijuana boards. His position is not subject to legislative confirmation. Wilcox said she hopes that independence will allow Klinkhart to hire staff without the approval of officials from the Department of Commerce.

Loren Jones, chairman of the Marijuana Control Board, said he spoke with Dunleavy’s departing chief of staff, Ben Stevens, about the vacancy issue last week. He believes that conversation led to Tuesday’s appointment of Klinkhart.

Jones’ term on the board expired Monday; the governor did not reappoint him. Jones is the only person to have served on the board consecutively since its creation in 2015. A replacement has not yet been named.

Jones said he was told simply that his services were not required anymore by the administration.

On the alcohol board, Dunleavy declined to reappoint chairman Glenn Brady or public member Sara Erickson, whose terms expired Monday. John Cox of Anchorage and Diane Thompson of Anchorage have been nominated to replace them. One seat remains unfilled on the alcohol board.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.