Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Nov. 28 that he appointed Erin Johnson to serve as the state’s next cannabis regulation oversight officer (CROO), a top regulatory position that has remained vacant for six months.
Johnson, who spent 2 1/2 years as chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, where she drafted and reviewed legislation that impacts juvenile justice and served as a liaison for the governor’s office, succeeds Danielle Perry, who left the CROO role in May 2022 as the state faced ongoing legal battles to issue 185 cannabis retail licenses.
Before Johnson began her work with juvenile justice, she spent 2 1/2 years as associate general counsel and chief diversity officer under former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, whom Pritzker defeated in the 2018 election.
“Erin Johnson’s commitment to equity will serve Illinois well as she takes the reins as the state’s cannabis regulation oversight officer,” Pritzker said in a press release. He added that Johnson “has the experience, education, and expertise to thrive in this role while advancing cannabis equity throughout Illinois. I can think of no better person than Erin to serve as our cannabis regulation oversight officer and I wish her all the best in this new position.”
The Cannabis Regulation Oversight Office is part of the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and works with other state agencies as the regulatory authority for Illinois’ licensed industry. Johnson will oversee the office to help ensure the state’s social equity goals are met through expungements, community reinvestment and diversification of the cannabis industry.
“I am incredibly thankful to Governor Pritzker for trusting me to lead the administration’s cannabis regulation efforts,” Johnson said in the release. “Together we will move Illinois forward and continue to build a cannabis industry that is driven by social equity, providing opportunities and righting generations of wrongs.”
In addition to her government work, Johnson spent the past 1 1/2 years as an associate corporate counsel at Amazon. Also, she was a litigation associated at SmithAmundsen LLC from 2013 to 2016 in Chicago. She holds bar admissions in Wisconsin, Illinois and the Northern District of Illinois.
Her CROO appointment by Pritzker awaits confirmation in the Illinois Senate.