Photo of Bronte Foley
Deputy Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer for Communications and External Affairs, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
In recent years, cannabis decriminalization and regulation has become one of the most controversial and impactful political topics in modern history. Bronte Foley, Deputy Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer for Communications and External Affairs, is humbled by the opportunity to engage directly with the individuals and communities affected by and involved in Illinois’ cannabis program.
“Illinois was the first state in the country to include broad and comprehensive measures centering equity in its adult use cannabis statute,” explained Foley. “My office is specifically responsible for upholding the values of the legalizing legislation and ensuring that the communities disproportionately harmed by the failed war on drugs reap the benefits of cannabis legalization.”
Foley’s interest in cannabis as a policy issue was sparked by her knowledge of Illinois’ robust criminal history record expungement program. In legalizing cannabis for adult use, the Illinois General Assembly considered how to reinvest cannabis tax revenue in those communities most adversely impacted by criminalization, diversify the cannabis industry at all levels, and how to begin rectifying the individual harms caused by the disproportionate enforcement of punitive drug laws and criminal history records involving cannabis. Foley’s office, the Cannabis Regulation Oversight Office (CROO), oversees the financial regulation and taxation of cannabis, and she directly oversee branding, marketing, and outreach for Illinois’ cannabis program.
“Through my previous work, and in my personal life, I have witnessed the immense challenges individuals with criminal history records face as they navigate daily life,” expressed Foley. “I joined the cannabis regulatory field with an eye toward reducing and, eventually, eliminating those barriers through expungement.”
Foley’s record of political involvement stretches back to her undergraduate years, during which she served as President of Women in Politics, attended the 2018 Women’s March on Washington, and received Newcomb summer internship grants.
“In the environment Newcomb created, I learned to ask questions when I had them and to move about the world feeling confident in myself and my abilities,” described Foley. “Most importantly, throughout my undergraduate career, I felt unconditionally supported by my peers at Newcomb and by Newcomb staff. In welcoming me, and people both like and unlike me, Newcomb staff and Newcomb as an institution, shaped my beliefs about service and equity, thereby informing, not only every aspect of my current work, but who I am and what I value as a person today.”
Policy and advocacy are both professional passion and great sources of joy and fulfillment for Foley, and she envisions a future working within government agencies or a nonprofit organization with a civil rights focus.
“Ultimately, I hope to continue working in public service, helping citizens navigate and reform the systems which are meant to serve them.”