High hopes for the marijuana industry; Governor Hochul appoints two cannabis leaders

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — New York lawmakers legalized adult-use recreational marijuana back in March 2021, but those looking to grow, sell, and buy cannabis are still waiting to find out how it will all work.

In a special legislative session called to order on Wednesday, Governor Kathy Hochul put two key people in place to oversee and regulate the state’s cannabis industry.

Former Brooklyn Assemblywoman, Tremaine Wright, has been nominated as chair of the Cannabis Control Board.  

Hochul’s pick for the executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management is Chris Alexander, the current policy coordinator for Drug Policy Alliance. Both nominations need to be approved by the State Senate.

The Office of Cannabis Management will oversee New York’s recreational marijuana laws under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which legalizes cannabis for anyone 21 years of age or older.

The department is in charge of issuing licenses for businesses to participate in the adult-use cannabis industries. Other responsibilities include managing retail operations like dispensaries, set rules about growing, processing and licensing marijuana.

A Central New York hemp farmer, Allan Gandelman, said he has high hopes for the future of his industry.

When we talk about the people in New York state who this is going to affect, there are two group. You have the consumers which will now be able to buy legal products that are safe, tested, and affordable, which is huge. Then, the next group of people is really going to be the small businesses, the people who are a part of the elicit market right now who might be growing and selling. They are going to have a path to legitimize their own small business. and to me, that’s the most exciting part of all of this.

Allan Gandelman, President, New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association

The appointments of Wright and Alexander are critical steps in moving forward to meet the timelines that were first established when the law was passed, but experts say it could still take up to two years before anything is finalized.

We’re still about a full year away from the first dispensaries opening up where people can go and buy adult-use cannabis products. More immediately, for people like myself, we will know that the industry is moving forward, and we are going to make plans for the next growing season, sourcing our seeds and getting our farm ready so we can start growing adult-use cannabis in the spring.

Allan Gandelman, President, New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association

Before any plan comes to life, there are still many steps before farmers put their first seed in the ground.

To learn more about the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, click here. For more information on the Office of Cannabis Management, click here.

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