During an Oct. 5 interview with the Advance Media New York editorial board, Hochul said the state will still realize its plan to have 20 adult-use dispensaries open by the end of 2022, with “another 20” opening roughly every month after that.
“We’re going to make sure that this is a model for the rest of the nation—especially with our desire to make sure that people who’ve been affected by the criminal justice system adversely ... have the opportunity to work in this area,” Hochul said, according to Syracuse.com.
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act in March 2021 to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state. The rollout of the program largely stalled, however, until Hochul became governor in August 2021 after Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
Upon taking the reins last year, Hochul called a special session and appointed members to the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and Cannabis Control Board (CCB). She also signed legislation to allow the state’s licensed hemp farmers to grow cannabis for the adult-use market, as well as announced a fund and a “Seeding Opportunity Initiative” to promote social equity in the industry.
“Talk about the rollout being jammed up,” Hochul told reporters Wednesday, according to Syracuse.com. “When I became governor, nothing had happened. Nothing. It was shut down because there was a battle between the administration and the Legislature over who would be the executive director and the chairs of the cannabis review boards.
“So, I was given a lot of credit because within one week, I named people. I got things going. So, when I speak to people about being part of this industry, the first thing they say is ‘thank you.’ Because otherwise we could still be waiting and waiting and waiting, even for the most basic steps to be taken. So, we’ve been moving along quickly.”
CCB Chair Tremaine Wright said in April that New York’s commercial adult-use cannabis market would launch this fall, and regulators continue to adopt regulations for the industry, as well as issue adult-use business licenses.
The OCM has received more than 900 applications for the 150 conditional adult-use retail dispensary (CAURD) licenses that officials plan to distribute to 14 regions throughout the state, but the applications have not yet been vetted or scored.
The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) must oversee the buildouts of the 150 retail locations in the state, Syracuse.com reported, but the agency has not confirmed securing any property to date.
In addition, the social equity fund, which will finance the dispensary buildouts, has not announced the raise of any capital, and no bank has been secured to house the money, according to the news outlet.
New York has also reserved 25 CAURD licenses for nonprofits, which do not have access to DASNY properties of social equity funds, Syracuse.com reported, but that could mean that the nonprofits will open their doors to serve the adult-use market more quickly than other licensees.
“We expect the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year,” Hochul reiterated Wednesday, according to Syracuse.com. “And then every month or so, another 20. So, we’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful."