Political Scramble May Delay Adult Cannabis Selling In NYS

With the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (“MRTA”) by New York on March 31, 2021, adult cannabis was legalized in New York State. However, the MRTA has only created a framework for the sale, regulation, and taxation of adult cannabis. The issuance of the applicable regulations for the sale of cannabis, including the granting of various license levels, rests solely with the Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”), which oversees the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”), and an independent regulatory authority under the MRTA.

The CCB will consist of five board members. Governor Andrew Cuomo has the right to appoint the director of the CCB (subject to approval by the State Senate) and two other members. The Senate and State Assembly each elect one of the two remaining members of the CCB. Governor Cuomo also has the power to elect the Executive Director of the OCM. The OCM and the CCB form an Advisory Board (“Advisory Board”) consisting of 13 voting members, seven of whom are appointed by Cuomo, three by the Senate and three by the Assembly. The Advisory Board is responsible for making recommendations to the CCB.

By the end of the last legislature, Governor Cuomo and the legislature had not made any appointments to the CCB, OCM or Advisory Board. Unless a special meeting is convened, it is possible that the appointments will not be made until January 2022. As a result, there is still no board or agency that can set and regulate the rules for licensing and selling adult cannabis. It was estimated that even if the necessary appointments were made this month, it would take at least a year for the OCM to draft and issue the regulations. The actual granting of licenses for adult use will no doubt fall short of approval and regulatory issuance.

Those looking to get into the adult cannabis business in New York State will still have to wait for the necessary appointments to be made and regulations enacted.

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