Following a six-month delay, the state’s Cannabis Control Board met for the first time Tuesday, a major step toward the creation of a regulatory framework for the nascent adult-use marijuana industry.
The state legislature passed legislation in March legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for the first time. While the law took effect immediately, it did not delineate how cannabis could be commercially grown, marketed and sold.
Those regulations would be left to the Office of Cannabis Management, and the control board appointed to oversee it. The brand-new agency will effectively govern all aspects of the industry, from the granting of grow licenses to packaging and labeling rules.
But the formation of the board was delayed, in part due to the political upheaval caused by Governor Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal.
Governor Kathy Hochul appointed the final two members of the five-person board two weeks ago.
“We were not able to begin the work of establishing New York’s cannabis market until September 22, when the full Cannabis Control Board was appointed,” said Chris Alexander, executive director of the new agency, at Tuesday’s meeting. “We have a six-month delay to make up.”
The board was supposed to issue regulations governing some aspects of the expanded medical marijuana industry within six months of the law’s passage.
“Due to the delay in appointing the full Cannabis Control Board, we have missed the first deadline,” said board chair Tremaine Wright, a former Brooklyn state assemblywoman.
Some changes now taking effect include the ability of medical marijuana patients to smoke the drug. Previously, they were limited to tinctures, lozenges and other non-smokable forms of marijuana. Patients can also now keep a two-month supply at home, up from one month.
Among other actions Tuesday, the board approved the hiring of 21 staff members and the appointment of a chief equity officer.