New York State’s Adult-Use Cannabis Program Finally Underway with Agency Appointments

Hodgson Russ LLP

Back in March, New York legalized adult-use cannabis through its Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”).  But, for months, those looking to enter the industry heard nothing but radio silence regarding how the Adult-Use Program will work. 

On September 1, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul called a special legislative session where the Senate confirmed two long-overdue appointments to the agency that will regulate and oversee the Program. 

The Senate confirmed Christopher Alexander as the executive director of the new Office of Cannabis Management, which will oversee the Adult-Use Program under the MRTA.  Alexander is government relations and policy manager at the Canada-based cannabis company Vill, LLC.  He was also an Associate Counsel in the New York State Senate, and Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.  

Tremaine Wright was confirmed as chairperson of the Cannabis Control Board, which will build out the details of the State’s cannabis industry and ultimately award licenses.  Wright is a former State Assemblywoman from Brooklyn. 

Four more members still need to be named by the governor and legislative leaders to the Board.  But Governor Hochul has formally, in her own words, “jumpstarted the long-overdue decisions pertaining to establishing cannabis in the State of New York.”  She also recently announced that standing up the New York cannabis industry will be a “priority” for her administration.  Insiders have speculated that we can expect regulations to issue within the next six months, and could expect licenses to issue as early as Fall 2022.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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