Gov. Kathy Hochul took credit for getting the adult market rolling quickly, saying the state would likely ‘still be waiting for the most basic steps’ had she not taken office in 2021.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday that the state’s first licensed retailers are set to open their doors before 2023 begins. Her comments ended speculation that New York’s weed market is struggling to meet its long-promised 2022 launch date. She added that 20 more dispensaries are expected to open every month or so thereafter.
By state law, New York’s first dispensaries will be owned by residents with cannabis convictions. More than 900 Conditional Adult-Use Recreational Dispensary (CAURD) license applications were accepted within the 37-day window, which opened August 25 and closed September 30.
So far, the cannabis board has granted zero CAURD licenses. On September 16, the state’s cannabis office told Leafly that it had not begun reviewing applications yet, but that the review process would not stop some stores from opening this year.
Here’s what the governor said
This week, Gov. Hochul was asked whether she was worried about shifting timelines for the rollout of New York’s retail market. She said the state’s timeline is “still on track,” in an exclusive interview with the Advance Media New York editorial board, according to New York Cannabis Insider’s Brad Racino.
Refusing to rush the process, Gov. Hochul added, “We’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful.”
“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.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul
Gov. Hochul is not messing around when it comes to the plant
According to Syracuse.com, Gov. Hochul also told the editorial board, “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.”
New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) was signed by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 31, 2021. But the new law saw almost no progress in the months that followed, as Cuomo had failed to establish a regulatory board.
When Gov. Hochul took his place in August 2021, she acted immediately. Her first move was appointing Tremaine Wright to lead the Cannabis Control Board and Chris Alexander to head the Office of Cannabis Management. New York cannabis regulators began meeting in October 2021, and gave an 18-month window to establish a legal framework for cannabis.
Here’s why some people are skeptical the state will hit its deadline
New York’s MRTA outlines essential steps that must take place before the state’s market launches. Many of those steps are still incomplete.
First, the publication of full regulations for industry governance has been pushed back multiple times by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The year-plus of missed deadlines has raised red flags among industry insiders and politicians who think the 2022 launch date seems unlikely.
Another potential cause for delay: The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) is overseeing the brick-and-mortar construction of the 150 incoming retail dispensaries. But the agency hasn’t secured any locations yet. And no money has been raised for the social equity fund meant to help launch the CAURD businesses.
On top of all that, the state hasn’t identified a banking partner that will house its massive social equity fund. And some are skeptical that the OCM can review and grade 900 applications quickly enough to license and launch stores before 2023. The question of supply is another major talking point.
Two reasons to be optimistic about NY’s 2022 timeline
The state anticipates opening 150 dispensaries for CAURD applicants, plus 25 for nonprofits. Since the nonprofits won’t have to wait on the aforementioned regulations for DASNY properties or the $200 million social equity cannabis investment fund, they could have a faster track to opening.
As for supply, there are now hundreds of licensed cultivators and processors already making way.
All facts considered, it could be high time for New Yorkers to start getting hyped for day one of adult-use sales.