New York Senate confirms appointees to oversee adult-use cannabis industry

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The New York Senate moved quickly to confirm two appointments offered by the state’s newly sworn-in governor, Kathy Hochul, to oversee the upcoming adult-use cannabis industry.

According to the New York Daily News, the Senate on Wednesday night confirmed:

  • Tremaine Wright, a former Brooklyn state assembly woman, to chair the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management.
  • Chris Alexander, the policy manager at Canada-based Vill, to serve as executive director of both agencies.

Both were nominated early Wednesday by Hochul, who had previously promised that her administration would jump-start the state’s adult-use cannabis industry. It’s a priority that her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, wasn’t nearly as eager to act on.

Hochul called a special session of the Legislature on Wednesday night partly to get her cannabis agency nominations confirmed so that the industry launch could get underway.

“There is no reason why simple announcements in terms of who the executive director is and who the chairperson is were not done in time, but I’m going to make up for that lost time,” Hochul told reporters about her quick move to nominate Wright and Alexander.

According to the Rockland/Westchester Journal News, the new appointees, who are African American, have backgrounds in cannabis and social equity (the latter is a key component of the state’s recreational marijuana law):

  • Alexander, who previously worked with the Drug Policy Alliance, was a big supporter of New York’s Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act and has worked for the state Senate.
  • Wright, who currently is the director of the Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment in the state’s finance office, served as chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus.