New York’s newly inaugurated governor wants to move quickly with key marijuana regulatory appointments in order to get the state’s legal cannabis industry up and running as soon as possible.
Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) took over from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid reports of sexual harassment against his staff, and is a keen supporter of the adult-use bill passed by the legislature earlier this year. Cuomo had preferred to implement the reform through his annual state budget but ultimately yielded due to sustained pressure from lawmakers and his increasingly untenable position as governor.
Hochul is now responsible for recruiting members to the state’s Cannabis Control Board, as well as filling the position of executive director at the new Office of Cannabis Management. Following the passage of New York’s legalization law, adults 21 and older can possess up to three ounces of marijuana or 24 grams of concentrates but there are currently no operating dispensaries to make legal purchases.
“Nominating and confirming individuals with diverse experiences and subject matter expertise, who are representative of communities from across the state, to the Cannabis Control Board is a priority for Gov. Hochul,” spokesperson Jordan Bennett said to The New York Post. “We look forward to working with the legislature to keep this process moving forward.”
Once the governor nominates her picks for these regulatory roles, New York’s Senate would then have to confirm the appointments. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) spoke with Gov. Hochul recently and Heastie noted that confirming regulators “was something that she wanted us all to concentrate on – and we agreed.”
Cannabis consumers in New York will be heartened by Hochul’s approach, given the ongoing disputes between Cuomo and the legislature about regulatory appointments which served to slow down the implementation of a legal marijuana market. New York lawmakers will also be keeping a close eye on developments in neighboring New Jersey where the state’s cannabis regulator just issued its rules for the legal cannabis industry, according to the New Jersey Herald.
As New York’s lieutenant governor, Hochul was an ardent advocate for cannabis legalization and managed to tread a fine line between supporting former Gov. Cuomo’s proposals for the reform while remaining open to lawmaker and stakeholder concerns. She has also emphasized the need for New York’s legal cannabis industry to be equitable, and that communities of color in particular should benefit from marijuana’s legalization.
Following then-Gov. Cuomo’s signing into law of the legalization bill, Hochul said, “not only will this help correct an unjust system that targets marginalized communities, it will create jobs & invest in those who have been historically underserved.”