New York cannabis chief resigns in wake of criticism

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Chris Alexander has resigned as executive director of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management rather than finish out his term.

It was expected that Alexander would work until his term expires in September after Gov. Kathy Hochul said earlier this month he would not be reappointed.

The governor’s decision to seek Alexander’s resignation came earlier this month after a review of the embattled agency’s work she had ordered.

According to nonprofit news organization The City, Alexander wrote in his resignation letter Friday that he had “been reluctant to write this email due to the deep connection and commitment I have to this work and to this Team.”

“And while I planned to serve out the remainder of my term,” he continued, “I no longer have confidence in my ability to do my job and lead this team effectively under current circumstances.”

Hochul appointed Alexander to oversee the state Office of Cannabis Management in 2021.

The governor has been critical of the agency, calling New York’s attempt to launch adult-use marijuana sales a “disaster.”

Since the state voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2021, only 130 adult-use stores have opened and retail licensing has been slow, burdening cultivators with unsold inventory and leading to numerous lawsuits.

In the meantime, the illicit market has thrived.

“Make no mistake, the smartest people in cannabis are here on this Team and in this Office and they have been working tirelessly to launch new businesses, protect workers, and ensure
products are safe for consumers and patients,” Alexander wrote in announcing his resignation.

“They are doing the difficult work of market building while still educating the masses.”