As one of the regulators overseeing cannabis in Massachusetts, Kimberly Roy, M.S. ’19, is focused on creating awareness about health and safety in an emerging industry.
Roy is currently steering policy that addresses the issue of driving under the influence and wants to incorporate reliable information into the curriculum of driving schools.
“I would hope all of us would think driving while impaired on any substance is a bad idea and it’s important to bring that message to our youth,” says Roy. “I want to provide evidence-based, peer-reviewed information to youth to help them make decisions about driving.”
Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Roy to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission in July, where she holds the public health seat on the five-member board.
Prior to joining the CCC, Roy was the director of external affairs for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department, where she oversaw the department’s Face2Face substance misuse prevention and education program. Roy traveled to each corner of Central Massachusetts to deliver that program to nearly 400,000 students.
Roy was getting her master’s degree in communication at Clark just as the School of Professional Studies was launching the Online Certificate in Regulatory Affairs for Cannabis Control, the first program of its kind nationwide.
“Massachusetts was the first state east of the Mississippi to legalize adult-use cannabis, so I think it was really fitting that Clark University began this curriculum,” says Roy. “There are thousands and thousands of jobs in the Massachusetts cannabis space. There’s already a $2.6 billion industry, and the first legal marijuana wasn’t sold until 2018. In that short time, the industry growth has come so far.”
The certificate program helps both entrepreneurs and municipal employees understand the regulatory frameworks of the cannabis industry. John LaBrie, dean of the School of Professional Studies, says having these distinct groups interact in a classroom setting helps break down broad stereotypes.
“We’ll have students sitting in an online classroom who are either launching their own business or are an employee of a business. Next to them, you may have police officers and city clerks,” he says. “One of the great things about sharing their perspectives is that is they destigmatize each other.”
The cannabis certificate courses also cover the history of the plant as well as public health impacts.
Roy notes that Massachusetts’ approach toward cannabis regulation is accompanied by a clear legislative mandate “around social equity and helping people who were penalized through marijuana prohibition and enforcement.”