Michele Nakata is the Chief of Office of Medical Cannabis Control and Regulation (OMCCR) at
the Hawaii Department of Health whose mission is to ensure that qualifying patients have safe
and legal access to cannabis for medical use. Michele has over 30 years of experience in public
health and before joining OMCCR in 2018, served as the Disease Investigations Branch Chief
managing statewide infectious disease surveillance and response to foodborne, vector-borne,
vaccine-preventable disease and multiple public health emergencies including Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Influenza A subtype H1N1, Ebola, Dengue, and Zika virus.
A 2017 graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law in Honolulu, Hawaii, Michele’s
interests are the result of her work and life experience and commitment to serving communities.
Her focus in public health is centered on legal epidemiology, the study of how laws affect the
public’s health. During law school, Michele completed an externship with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Law Program where she conducted state law and
policy reviews on healthcare worker and patient vaccinations, pain management clinics, and
State Innovation Models.
Michele is passionate about relationship building and conflict management in organizations. As a
student at Richardson, she was a member of the Client Counseling Team and a national semi-
finalist in the 2017 American Bar Association Client Counseling Competition. Michele’s roles as
disease investigator, supervisor, manager, wife, and parent, have informed her skill as a fact
finder, conflict manager, and dispute resolver. Her favorite song is "Imagine" by John Lennon.