Pamela Althoff Credit: Official Photo / Illinois State Senate

The executive director of Illinois’ largest cannabis trade association is expected to announce today she is stepping down in two months. Pamela Althoff, 67, who has been the executive director of the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois since 2019, submitted a notice of her intended resignation to CBAI board members earlier this week. Organization by-laws require a sixty day notice for executive director resignations.

Althoff was brought on in January 2019 after the organization’s previous executive director, Mike Kleinik, was named Director of the Illinois Department of Labor by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Althoff previously served as a Republican Illinois state senator from northwest suburban McHenry County from 2003 to 2018. She subsequently ran for and holds a seat on the McHenry County Board.

Under Althoff’s leadership, the organization lobbied the Illinois legislature on behalf of existing license holders to update legislation on adult-use licensing laws. Althoff also expanded the organization’s staff from just her and an assistant to a team of five people focusing on public relations and member services, say CBAI members.

“Pam came to our organization exactly when we needed her,” said PharmaCann’s Jeremy Unruh, who is a CBAI board member. “When we were just past being born and we had substantial hills to climb in transitioning from medical to adult use. She not only did everything that was asked of her, she knocked everything out of the ballpark.

As Illinois is poised to distribute hundreds new cannabis licenses by the end of the year, CBAI is challenged to figure out how to represent the entrenched interests of a few major players interested in less government interference, versus the dozens of smaller license operators coming on the scene who want government to play a bigger role.

Althoff declined to comment until after officially announcing her departure at today’s CBAI board meeting.


Editor Mike is a co-founder and the editor of Grown In, a U.S. national cannabis industry newsletter and training company. His career has taken him from Capitol Hill to Chicago City Hall, from...