New York governor vows to make adult-use marijuana a priority

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took over this week for embattled Andrew Cuomo, pledged to move forward with the state’s multibillion-dollar adult-use marijuana program as quickly as possible.

“Nominating and confirming individuals with diverse experiences and subject-matter expertise, who are representative of communities from across the state, to the Cannabis Control Board is a priority for Gov. Hochul,” the new governor’s spokesman, Jordan Bennett, told The New York Post.

But it’s unclear how quickly Hochul can narrow the increasing gap between New York and rival New Jersey, which last week released a set of initial rules for its recreational cannabis program.

Hochul will need the state Senate to confirm the key appointment of chair of the Cannabis Control Board, and the Legislature currently isn’t in session.

Hochul expressed her intent to move forward with the cannabis board appointments in a discussion with legislative leaders this week, and the issue will be part of a private meeting next week with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Post reported.

Cuomo signed recreational marijuana legislation into law in late March but failed to move the program forward.

The New York market had been expected to launch as soon as spring 2022, but that timeline is likely to slip, according to experts.

Further delays especially will hurt small businesses and entrepreneurs, who must be careful not to make real estate and other financial commitments too soon, industry officials said.

Financial experts said that any fast-tracking done by New York likely would be in allowing existing medical cannabis operators to transition first to adult use.

But nine of the 10 are multistate operators, which could put smaller businesses at a disadvantage and undermine the state’s commitment to develop a diverse industry.

The recreational marijuana law states an ambitious goal of issuing 50% of all adult-use business licenses to social and economic equity applicants.