New York State’s newly completed Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”) had its first public meeting Tuesday, pledging to move forward in filling out the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) and drafting rules and regulations. Chairwoman Tremaine Wright noted that it would be a priority of CCB and OCM to make up for lost time following the delay from the gubernatorial transition from Andrew Cuomo to Kathy Hochul.
Late last month, Governor Hochul appointed the final two members to the CCB, Reuben R. McDaniel, III and Jessica Garcia. We discussed the previous CCB appointments in my previous blog, NEW YORK FILLS 2ND AND 3RD SEATS ON 5-MEMBER CANNABIS CONTROL BOARD. Mr. McDaniel is the president and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the State’s public finance and construction authority, and has over 30 years of experience in investment banking and financial services. Ms. Garcia is a social worker by training with years of involvement in the immigrant rights community, and she is currently a union leader from the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, UFCW, which represents food workers and non-food retail.
At the Business of Cannabis conference in Manhattan last Wednesday, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, one of the primary sponsors of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”), called the new CCB and OCM leadership the “dream team,” as it’s clear that Governor Hochul gave great deference to the recommendations of Senator Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the other primary MRTA sponsor. Another industry leader speaking at the conference, Kristin Jordan of Park Jordan, lauded the CCB appointments as a clear signal that New York’s adult-use cannabis rollout is putting “New Yorkers first and small businesses first.” Numerous conference speakers also voiced strong approval of Axel Bernabe staying on as a key OCM staff member.
The CCB’s first meeting consisted mostly of confirming appointments, including the appointment of the OCM’s Chief Equity Officer to oversee the program’s social and economic equity efforts, as well as the expansion of the existing medical cannabis program to allow prescription of whole flower by any practitioner licensed to prescribe controlled substances. The CCB also announced the kick-off of a public education campaign, but they did not provide further detail on developing the adult-use regulatory scheme.
So, how will New York’s cannabis leadership work together to implement the MRTA and when will draft regulations come out? We do not yet know, but we do know that Governor Hochul’s office has assembled a team that is diverse both in its racial and ethnic makeup and its areas of experience and expertise, has the backing of the local and regional cannabis community, and is committed to working quickly to open the new market in an equitable way. A full transcript of the CCB’s meeting, as well as announcements of future meetings, can be found here.