Minnesota's legislative auditor to examine cannabis office director debacle

A woman sits at a table
Judy Randall, Minnesota Legislative Auditor, in her office on June 22, 2023.
Brian Bakst | MPR News file

Updated 11:20 a.m.

Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor will dig into the short-circuited appointment of the Office of Cannabis Management director. 

In an interview Tuesday, Auditor Judy Randall said she would formally inform the governor’s office and other entities that she has launched a preliminary inquiry into the hire and quick departure of Erin DuPree as the state’s top marijuana market regulator. Randall said the DuPree situation triggered the review, but it could delve into the appointment and vetting process in general.

“The fact that she was appointed and then information came out that it appears that the governor’s office wasn’t aware of, that then caused the candidate to step down and the governor to acknowledge problems with the process, caused us to have questions about the thoroughness of the process,” Randall said. 

The auditor review was first reported by the Star Tribune.

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DuPree was named last month by Gov. Tim Walz to the post but resigned the next day after questions about her record surfaced, including allegations she stocked and advertised products at her Apple Valley cannabis business that wouldn’t have been permitted by law. She has denied knowingly selling non-compliant products. MPR News also reported on tax liens and unpaid court judgments related to other business ventures she ran.

Randall said at least one state lawmaker contacted the auditor about looking into the matter and the appointment process. 

Walz hasn’t directly reacted to the development, but a spokesperson said “if the auditor chooses to launch an investigation, we look forward to reviewing it.”

portrait of a woman
Erin DuPree was named to lead Minnesota’s Office of Cannabis Management but resigned a day later.
Courtesy photo

Preliminary inquiries don’t always lead to full-blown audits. They involve an examination of records and other materials rather than interviews and surveys used in deeper probes. DuPree won’t necessarily be asked to participate at this stage, Randall said.

Randall offered no timeline for completing the inquiry. At that point, the auditor’s office will decide whether to ratchet up the review or consider it a closed matter.

“I think it really will depend on the information we gather through this preliminary inquiry process,” she said. A decision to close the matter would happen “if there’s information that satisfies us, and makes us not think that it’s a good use of our resources” to investigate further.