New York’s 57th governor, Kathy Hochul — sworn into office this week after embattled Andrew Cuomo resigned — said she is ready to move on the state’s potentially multibillion-dollar legal cannabis program ASAP, reported The New York Post.
The Background: New York’s legal marijuana program came into being on March 31, 2021 after years of wrangling and tense negotiations.
At the time, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) was roundly praised as among the best in the country in terms of the quantity of cannabis one can buy and possess, home grow, delivery, public consumption and social equity that includes automatic expungement and the reinvestment of up to 40% of weed revenue into communities targeted by the drug war as well as disadvantaged farmers and women.
This all sounded breathlessly exciting until everything suddenly stopped. Why?
Many New Yorkers opined that the cannabis program, like so much else in the Empire State, came to a stop or at least a long stall when Cuomo began the downward spiral toward his inglorious resignation after 10 years as governor.
Even before that, Cuomo was in a dispute with the state Senate over several issues and never nominated an executive director for the new Office of Cannabis Management nor appointees to the Cannabis Control Board. The hope was that the New York market would launch as early as spring 2022.
Enter Gov. Kathy Hochul
The former lieutenant governor, though known for being low-key (who wouldn’t be working under Cuomo?) obviously saw the writing on the wall when she tweeted in January 2021 that “It's time to finally legalize recreational marijuana and create an equitable adult-use cannabis program that generates much-needed revenue for New York.”
And now Hochul's chance has come.
Although it’s unclear how quickly Hochul can roll out the state’s program in view of the precious little groundwork done by her predecessor, the governor has expressed her intent to move forward with the cannabis board and other appointments, the Post reported.
The issue will be part of a private meeting to be held next week with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a staunch supporter of cannabis legalization.
“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,” the new governor’s spokesman, Jordan Bennett, told The Post.
“We look forward to working with the legislature to keep this process moving forward,” the Hochul rep said.
Photo courtesy of Tania Fernandez on Unsplash.