Marijuana industry officials named | Best Stories

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New Yorkers are eagerly awaiting more concrete parameters within the new recreational marijuana industry after Senate approval this week to appoint two leaders to licensing and regulatory entities emerging market.

Senators approved Tremaine Wright to chair the Cannabis Control Board and Christopher Alexander as executive director of the Cannabis Management Office during a special session Wednesday called by Governor Kathy Hochul to extend the moratorium on evictions and seizures.

“One of my top priorities is to finally get the cannabis industry up and running in New York City – this was long overdue, but we will make up for lost time,” Hochul said.

Wright, a former Brooklyn assembly member who chaired the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian state legislative caucus, is the first director of the state’s financial services office for inclusion and empowerment. financial. She is a lawyer and former owner of a small business.

Alexander is a former member of the Senate political staff who also worked in the cannabis industry.

“Both of these individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new roles, and I know they will do a tremendous job of defining and implementing regulations that are safe, fair and transparent, and that recognize the need to address the impact this ban had on communities of color, “Hochul said.” I look forward to working with them to grow our state’s cannabis industry and bring real change to New Yorkers. “

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, enacted on March 31, legalized recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older and immediately struck marijuana-related convictions from New Yorkers’ records.

The new supervisory board and management office were created under the law, but the Executive Chamber and lawmakers did not appoint any entities until Wednesday.

The Supervisory Board will be composed of five members, three of whom are appointed by the Governor, including the President, and one appointment by each of the Houses of the Legislative Assembly. The advisory council will have 13 voting members, including seven appointed by the governor and two from each legislative chamber.

Authorities have estimated that the state’s first adult sales will begin 18 months after the enactment of the MRTA last spring, making New York City the 15th to legalize recreational marijuana. Without appointments to oversight bodies, the process has been delayed for a further five and a half months, at a minimum, as other board positions await filling.

Dr Stacia Woodcock, head of the dispensary at Curaleaf, said it was a misconception that sales of marijuana would start imminently after legalization.

“It’s pretty much like how legalization plays out,” Woodcock said. “It’s the same timeline for the other states.”

The Cannabis Control Board and Cannabis Management Office will create and implement regulations on the production, licensing, packaging, marketing and sale for the adult cannabis, hemp industries. and medical marijuana.

The CMO will also oversee the state’s existing medical marijuana program, certified patients, caregivers, and practitioners are currently regulated by the state’s health department.

“Specifically, with the regulations for adult use, no state has it all figured out, but we can learn positive lessons from regulations across the county, both good and bad,” Patrik Jonsson said. , Curaleaf Regional President for the Northeast, noting California’s rigorous plant and product testing and the large New Jersey wholesale market.

“To revive the industry, the state must allow existing operators to get started with the adult use program early so they can begin to develop the initial foundations of the program, including payments to support applicants. equity and ensuring use by adults. product for these new businesses to sell, ”he said. “Existing medical operators already have grow sites that can help produce products for adults, while maintaining the integrity of the medical market. From there, existing operators, state regulators, and new social equity contenders should work collectively to develop a support system that will allow social equity contenders to thrive and overcome volume of the first operators.

State regulators should allow expanded product formats to encourage people to buy cannabis at regulated dispensaries rather than on the black market, Jonsson said.

The MRTA includes provisions to expand the medical marijuana program and the CMO is developing the regulatory framework necessary to implement these changes, but few details of the expansions are known to date.

Doctors can certify that New Yorkers become medical cannabis patients under a list of eligible conditions, which include several for chronic pain relief, such as migraines, arthritis, and menstrual cramps.

“Looking at the list, they may not think that ‘arthritis in my hands is chronic pain,'” said Woodcock.

The new state entities will further expand the eligibility requirements for medical marijuana. The updated qualifiers should allow medical marijuana for any condition that a doctor may deem beneficial to the patient.

Access to whole-flower cannabis products is not permitted under the state’s current medical marijuana program, first established in 2018.

“We’ve had tons of phone calls – people think the law is passed and that means they can come and buy immediately, but we have to explain that it’s going to take a year if not longer,” Woodcock said. “But they don’t have to wait. They can get a medical card.

Woodcock, a pharmacist, said New Yorkers can use a robust medical marijuana program and don’t have to wait for federally and state-regulated dispensaries to open next year before d ” have access to cannabis.

“The eligibility requirements are much more lenient than people think,” she said, and encouraged anyone interested to check with their family doctor.

The law provides for a five-member board to oversee the establishment and implementation of the Office of Cannabis Management and appoint a director of equity who will develop a social equity plan to prioritize the participation of owned businesses. women or minorities, people with disabilities. veterans and smallholder farmers in an under-represented demographic.

Alexander previously served as Senate Legal Counsel and a staff member of the Drug Policy Alliance who helped draft the MRTA to ensure participation opportunities for communities historically affected by Prohibition.

The alliance strongly supported the appointments of Wright and Alexander.

“We applaud the nominations of Chris Alexander (…) and former Assembly Member Tremaine Wright,” said Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Kassandra Frederique. “They both understand the profound harm that criminalization has caused to individuals and communities – especially communities of color – across the state. Their past work has reflected a commitment to working with people who have been directly affected by Prohibition and has demonstrated a belief in evidence-based policies that center fairness and justice.

Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Michelle Hinchey D-Saugerties was thrilled to vote to nominate Wright and Alexander to launch the state’s recreational cannabis program – the fairest and most diverse in the country, she declared.

“This industry will promote the economic growth of our municipalities and the financial stability of upstate farmers, small business owners and workers across the state,” Hinchey said. “We have seen tremendous excitement and enthusiasm for setting up and running the New York Commercial Cannabis Program, and we have a responsibility to do so as soon as possible. I look forward to our continued work to make this industry a mainstay of New York’s agriculture sector.

The Advisory Board will make recommendations to the Control Board and will administer and govern the distribution of the Social Equity and Community Reinvestment Grants.

“As New York creates its regulations with the goal and intention of creating opportunities for candidates for social equity and areas of disproportionate impact, it will be essential that the governing body has the framework and the people. in place to support these initiatives once the programs come online, “Jonsson said.

Massachusetts legislation contained similar provisions for social equity in the industry, but lacked the structure and process for

“Collecting the money is the easiest part, figuring out who gets what, when and why is the hardest part,” he said.

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