New York State Cannabis Leaders Confirmed By Lawmakers, Finally!

Is New York Cannabis headed in the right direction after a six-month delay?
Is New York Cannabis headed in the right direction after a six-month delay? / Image by Ronile from Pixabay

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is proving true to her word, wasting no time on the state’s industry roll-out.

On Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, Gov. Hochul announced her intent to “jumpstart” adult-use cannabis in the Empire State.

Hochul also nominated two critical appointments to lead the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management.

Both nominations were quickly confirmed by the Senate, which met for a special session.

Serving as chair for the Cannabis Control board will be former New York Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management has been confirmed as former Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) staffer Christopher Alexander.

"One of my top priorities is to finally get New York's cannabis industry up and running – this has been long overdue, but we're going to make up for lost time," Governor Hochul said in a press release.

"These two individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new roles, and I know they will do a tremendous job of outlining and implementing regulations that are safe, fair and transparent, and that recognize the need to remedy the impact that prohibition has had on communities of color. I look forward to working with them on building our state's cannabis industry and effecting real change for New Yorkers."

New York Cannabis Headed in Right Direction?

Gov. Hochul replaced Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week after Cuomo had resigned amidst a sexual harassment scandal.

Cuomo had delayed the state’s cannabis efforts for six months, stalling over negotiations with state legislators over his desired nominations.

Perhaps it happened for a reason because state lawmakers seem generally pleased with Hochul’s appointments.

In a tweet, State Senator Liz Krueger, who was lead sponsor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), noted that she was “very pleased with the nominations of Chris Alexander and Tremaine Wright to OCM and CCB, and grateful to @GovKathyHochul for moving swiftly to get the process of implementing adult-use marijuana back on track after months of needless delay.”

Wright and Alexander both come from diverse backgrounds, which is a critical factor given the disproportionate impact the so-called war on drugs has had on People of Color, as well as the industry’s continued struggle to get social equity right.

The desire for New York’s adult-use cannabis industry is to become a model for other states on how to do this right. If that’s going to happen, it starts with having the right people at the top.

“We’re definitely excited that the governor has prioritized rolling this out,” Alexander said at the hearing, as reported by Marijuana Moment. “We had a six-month delay – we’re behind six months already – and so the [governor’s] priority, she’s been very clear that she wants to get this going.”

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