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Even though recreational sales will not begin in New York until 2022, new Governor Kathy Hochul is making good on her promise to get the state’s cannabis policies moving forward. As we mentioned in our last issue, her disgraced predecessor Andrew Cuomo had put the brakes on the industry launch, but Hochul has her own priorities.

So on September 1st, Hochul called a special session of the legislature to get her nominations for the Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board confirmed. As she told reporters, “There is no reason why simple announcements of who the executive director is and who the chairperson is were not done in time, but I’m going to make up for that lost time.” Both posts were filled with appointees who are Black and who have backgrounds in cannabis and social equity — a move that was generally applauded by the local cannabis industry.

For the Office of Cannabis Management, executive director Chris Alexander was formerly the government relations and policy director at the Canadian multi-state cannabis company Vill LLC. He had also served as an Associate Counsel in the New York State Senate, and as Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.

For the Cannabis Control Board, chairperson Tremaine Wright was formerly a Brooklyn state assemblywoman, and served as director of the Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment. She had also previously served as chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus in the state assembly.

Hochul still has two other Cannabis Control Board appointments to make, which do not require Senate confirmation. The state Legislature appoints the remaining two board members, and wasted no time in doing so. Just last week, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced the appointment of Buffalo attorney Adam W. Perry. And Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins announced the appointment of former New York State Senator Jen Metzger.

The Cannabis Control Board is responsible for the statewide implementation and regulation of adult-use cannabis, ensuring the industry is socially and fiscally equitable. It also issues regulations for at-home cultivation. They can start their mission once all five seats are filled; in the meantime the Office of Cannabis Management is working on filling its upper-level staff positions. So the retailers, growers and processors who felt stymied during the prior administration are now pleased to see things moving ahead.