At long last, New York has started formalizing its cannabis industry by appointing the Chairperson of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and the Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).
Consistent with her public statements, Governor Kathy Hochul kickstarted the process by calling back New York’s legislature for an “Extraordinary Session” to consider several major issues, including the CCB and OCM appointments.
And so, on September 1, 2021, New York’s legislature approved the appointments of Tremaine Wright as the CCB’s Chairwoman and Christopher Alexander as the OCM’s Executive Director. Please meet our new Chairwoman and Executive Director, with a little information about their respective backgrounds and a summary of each role’s major responsibilities:
CCB Chairwoman: Tremaine Wright
What We Know:
Ms. Wright is a Brooklyn native and an attorney who was elected to New York’s State Assembly in 2016. Her district covered the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn as well as the northern portion of Crown Heights. She is a graduate of Duke University and the University of Chicago School of Law, and practiced law at Brooklyn Legal Services.
With her stellar educational background and experience as a practicing attorney, as well as her legislative experience, it appears that Ms. Wright is well-suited for getting the MRTA’s rules and regulations off the ground, with an eye towards the social and economic equity program.
CCB Chairperson Responsibilities in Conjunction with the CCB:
Limiting, or not limiting, the number of registrations, licenses, and permits of each class of license to be issued within the state or any political subdivision.
Creating the standards and requirements for medical cannabis, adult-use cannabis and cannabis product, and cannabinoid hemp and hemp extract.
Creating the form of applications for registrations, licenses, and permits, as well as all reports, deemed necessary by the CCB.
General power to exercise power and duties necessary to enact the MRTA, even if not specifically enumerated.
Establishing minimum criteria for certifying employees to work in the cannabis industry in positions requiring advanced training.
Advising the OCM and/or the Urban Development Corporation in making low-interest or zero-interest loans to qualified social and economic equity applicants.
Approving any price quotas or price controls set by the executive director
Approving the OCM’s social equity plan.
Issuing preliminary determination on whether a registration, license, or permit should be issued, rejected, or held for further action after receiving a recommendation and relevant application information from the OCM.
Sole discretion to revoke, cancel or suspend licenses and impose civil penalties (upon hearing)
OCM Executive Director: Christopher Alexander
What We Know: Mr. Alexander is also a native New Yorker and attorney. Mr. Alexander is the government relations and policy director at the cannabis company Vill LLC, a Multi-State Cannabis Company based in Canada. He was also an Associate Counsel in the New York State Senate and Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.
As a policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, Mr. Alexander should be well-suited to addressing the complex issues for implementing New York’s cannabis regulations. He was also involved in the negotiations and drafting of multiple versions of the MRTA, which should also facilitate a complementary and consistent set of rules and regulations for the industry.
OCM Executive Director Responsibilities:
Power of Office of Cannabis Management exercised through the Executive Director.
General power to promote the MRTA’s goals, even if not specifically enumerated.
Keeping records, including the names of the officers and directors of corporate licensees and the location of all licensed premises.
Inspecting or providing for the inspection of facilities authorized by MRTA
Prescribing the forms of applications for licenses and permits.
Performing duties as delegated by the CCB.
Advising and assisting the CCB.
Issuing guidance and advisories
While we are waiting to get to know Ms. Wright and Mr. Alexander better (specifically, their plans for New York’s rules and regulations), it is incredibly exciting that Governor Hochul has kickstarted this process. New York’s cannabis industry has finally taken a tangible step forward after the MRTA was enacted in March, and we look forward to more positive developments through the end of the year.
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