Hochul noted that New York’s plan to regulate recreational cannabis, which was legalized statewide last year with the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), includes
“We’re going to make sure that this is a model for the rest of the nation — especially with our desire to make sure that people who’ve been affected by the criminal justice system adversely … have the opportunity to work in this area,”
Although adult-use cannabis retailer licenses will be awarded soon, Chris Alexander, the executive director of the New York Office of Cannabis Management, revealed in August that applications for licenses for recreational marijuana cultivators and processors will not be opened until next year. Regulators have issued conditional licenses to some of the state’s regulated hemp growers to cultivate and process cannabis until recreational cultivators and manufacturers begin operations.
Hochul Responds to Delayed Cannabis Dispensary License Rollout
When asked why licenses for growers and processors will be issued after retailers are licensed, Hochul said that her administration had limited time to act after taking over from former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in 2021 after being embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. When Hochul took office, her staff realized that little had been done to implement the MRTA since it had been passed nearly five months earlier.
“Talk about the rollout being jammed up,” she said. “When I became governor, nothing had happened. Nothing. It was shut down because there was a battle between the administration and the legislature over who would be the executive director and the chairs of the cannabis review boards.”
Once taking office, Hochul was praised for taking swift action to enact the recreational cannabis legalization measure that had thus far been neglected.
“So, I was given a lot of credit because within one week, I named people. I got things going,” she said. “So, when I speak to people about being part of this industry, the first thing they say is ‘thank you.’ Because otherwise we could still be waiting and waiting and waiting, even for the most basic steps to be taken. So we’ve been moving along quickly.”
The cannabis retailers slated to open by the end of the year will be issued licenses through a plan announced in March that is designed to ensure equitable representation in New York’s cannabis industry. Under the plan, the first 100 licenses for adult-use cannabis retailers will be issued to applicants with prior convictions for marijuana-related offenses.
“New York State is making history, launching a first-of-its-kind approach to the cannabis industry that takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past,”