WORCESTER – One of the new members of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission said her time working with incarcerated people in the Worcester County’s office and public health experience shaped her approach to dealing with a growing cannabis market.
Kimberly Roy, who previously served as director of foreign affairs for Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis and the Worcester County’s Sheriff’s Department, was appointed to the CCC by Governor Charlie Baker in July, filling the space vacated when the former Leominster- Legislator Jennifer Flanagan resigned in the spring.
Originally from Somerset, Roy moved to Worcester County about 25 years ago. Prior to joining the sheriff’s office, Roy worked for Johnson & Johnson, providing updated research and medical resources to clinicians and poor patients. She left Johnson & Johnson to stay at home for 10 years. Roy’s work in healthcare has given her an appreciation for therapeutics that are effective in helping patients and their needs in the markets, Roy said.
When her son and daughter were at an age she was comfortable getting back to work, Roy joined the sheriff’s department in 2011. Roy oversaw the department’s external programs, public relations, and communications emanating from the office.
“I feel really blessed to have this opportunity. It has allowed me to see Worcester County from corner to corner,” said Roy. “Worcester County is a special place, and an amazing community, and it’s a diverse community, and it has been an honor to not only work with inmates and incarcerated within the walls of the prison, but also to work in the community.”
Direct cooperation with detainees
Roy said the project she was most proud of during her time in the sheriff’s office was to write a prevention curriculum for Worcester County’s teenagers called Face2Face, which was told through inmates’ stories about their misconceptions about drugs in boys Years ago. This experience with prisoners shaped her work in the commission.
“I would say that working directly with incarcerated people and considering the toll that addiction can have on not just one person but on an entire family,” said Roy. “Nothing makes us happier than seeing someone who can relax and overcome these addictions and lead a functioning and great life outside of them.”
Motherhood also helped prepare her to be a commissioner and almost anything, Roy said.
Responsibilities on CCC
As commissioner, Roy said she was tasked with making and enforcing government regulations on cannabis and enabling a fair market for adult marijuana. The CCC creates, reviews, and revises regulations for cannabis and approves licenses, be they provisional licenses, final licenses or changes of ownership. The Commission can also set conditions for licenses based on perceived needs.
Roy’s seat on the Commission is particularly focused on public health. During her induction period, Roy read up on regulations and spoke to people thinking about cannabis.
“My brief tenure on the Commission has given me the opportunity to meet with so many voters and hear their concerns and see how the industry has affected them,” said Roy. “We always look through the lens of public aid, public safety. For me there is a third ‘P’, which is prevention with our youth.”
With her Face2Face curriculum in mind for inspiration, Roy researches a driver education curriculum about driving under the influence of cannabis. She said that there are many myths about driving a car under the influence of cannabis and the curriculum should try to dispel them while providing facts about how cannabis can affect driving.
Legal medical cannabis and adult cannabis came to Massachusetts because of popular will of the population, Roy said. Your commission is monitoring the industry and making adjustments if necessary. Roy pointed to the Commission’s decision in October to extend curb health care and telehealth services.
“It is important to remember that the first pharmacy only opened in November 2018. So this is still a relatively young industry in Massachusetts, ”said Roy.
Roy commended the founding commission for setting the first rules for the industry in the state, and said the state was leading the way in adopting an equity-based approach to cannabis regulation and adopting rigorous testing protocols for products. Flanagan also helped Roy a lot as she got used to her new position, Roy said.
Central Massachusetts was a center of the cannabis industry in the state. Roy said the industry’s growth in the region could possibly be due to local governments seeing cannabis as an opportunity for economic development and making their agreements between the host community early on. Cheaper real estate in central Massachusetts and underutilized industrial space could also have played a role in the rise of cannabis, Roy said.
Roy said she also wanted to examine what future technologies might be on the horizon to cope under the influence of the operation, saying that more research needs to be done on medical uses of cannabis. She has spoken to veterans using cannabis as therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and wants to help veterans with access issues.