Governor Hochul Orders Review of New York Cannabis Licensing

The TDR Three Takeaways New York

  1. Governor Hochul orders a review of New York’s troubled cannabis licensing process to address rollout delays.
  2. Only a fraction of licensed cannabis stores have opened in New York, highlighting systemic issues.
  3. The review aims to improve transparency and fairness in New York’s cannabis licensing, amid concerns over illegal shops.

In a move to tackle the sluggish and problematic rollout of legal cannabis shops in New York, Governor Kathy Hochul has initiated a comprehensive review of the state’s cannabis business licensing process. This action comes in response to widespread frustration with the painfully slow pace of opening legal cannabis outlets in the state, which has seen just over 80 licensed stores commence operations since the law’s enactment three years prior. This figure stands in stark contrast to the thousands of illegal cannabis shops currently operating across the state.

The governor’s frustration mirrors that of many license applicants, leading to the appointment of Jeannette Moy, commissioner of the Office of General Services, to spearhead the cleanup of the “disaster” that the rollout has become. Moy’s daunting task involves scrutinizing all aspects of the licensing operation, with a focus on enhancing communication and transparency to alleviate the uncertainty and frustration felt by prospective business owners.

The Office of Cannabis Management, struggling with a backlog of 7,000 applications managed by merely 32 staff members, faces criticisms over its handling of the licensing process. Allegations of unfair advantages and inconsistencies have plagued the system, prompting calls for a more equitable and transparent approach.

Amid this licensing quagmire, illegal cannabis shops have flourished across New York City, posing significant challenges to local communities and resulting in a substantial loss of tax revenue. State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal has expressed outrage at this situation, advocating for increased authority for local municipalities to tackle these illegal operations.

The review led by Moy aims not only to address the current inefficiencies and inequities in the licensing process but also to streamline procedures to expedite the opening of legal cannabis stores. However, achieving these improvements is anticipated to be a time-consuming endeavor.

This initiative by Governor Hochul signifies a critical step towards resolving the complexities of New York’s cannabis market, aiming to establish a more accessible, transparent, and fair licensing process. The goal is to foster a legal cannabis industry that benefits small businesses and communities adversely affected by previous anti-cannabis policies, while simultaneously combating the proliferation of unlicensed dispensaries. The resolution of these issues is crucial for the success and legitimacy of New York’s legal cannabis market. Want to keep up to date with all of TDR’s research and news, subscribe to our daily Baked In newsletter.   

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