Director of Arkansas’ Alcoholic Beverage Control will step down

Doralee Chandler will step down as the director of Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Chandler’s last day will be Feb. 18, she wrote in a letter announcing her resignation to Larry Walther, secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration. Chandler said in the letter that she wants “to pursue other opportunities.”

Chandler will move to another position in state government, according to Scott Hardin, a spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Administration. An interim director of Alcoholic Beverage Control has not been named, Hardin said.

As director of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Chandler helped oversee the state’s regulation of the new medical marijuana industry after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes.

“It has been a great privilege to serve as the Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control overseeing the regulation, supervision and control of the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages and medical marijuana,” Chandler wrote in her resignation letter, dated Feb. 1. “During my time in this position, the agency has seen many modifications to the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages in order to promote economic development as well as overseeing the initiation of the medical marijuana program.”

As director of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Chandler helped oversee the opening of the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries, which began operation in 2019. Under the Department of Finance and Administration, Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Medical Marijuana Commission oversee the licensing for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivators and enforce state rules.

Chandler was appointed as the Alcoholic Beverage Control director by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2018, joining the agency after serving as general counsel for the state Crime Lab. Chandler replaced Mary Robin Casteel, whom Hutchinson picked to be his chief legal counsel.

Before her time in government, Chandler worked as a civil defense lawyer the Little Rock firm Matthews, Sanders and Sayes. In 2014 she ran for circuit court judge in the 20th Judicial District, Division 5, losing to Judge H.G. Foster of Conway.

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