Key figure in flawed New York adult-use marijuana rollout quits regulatory board

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A central figure in New York’s botched adult-use marijuana rollout on Thursday resigned from the state Cannabis Control Board.

Reuben McDaniel, president of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), announced his departure from the board during an Office of Cannabis Management meeting.

He’d been criticized for a perceived conflict of interest and blamed for the state’s inability to open adult-use retail outlets.

McDaniel’s impeding departure was first reported late Wednesday by The City.

He did not explain his exit.

But in a statement issued through a DASNY spokesperson Thursday, McDaniel thanked Gov. Kathy Hochul, who appointed him in 2021, as well as his colleagues at the Office of Cannabis Management.

He also said the state would “get this right.”

In his statement, McDaniel said, in part, that “the Governor’s vision will make New York a leader in Cannabis social equity and I look forward to seeing it become a reality.

“I am proud to have played a role in building a new industry on a foundation of social equity.

“It will be a wonderful day when we all get this right.”

As head of a state agency that finances construction projects for public-serving institutions, McDaniel was the public official responsible for raising $150 million in private capital that was promised to social equity marijuana licensees as startup funds.

However, more than two years after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed marijuana legalization into law, barely a dozen adult-use retailers are open across the state.

And it’s unclear whether McDaniel and the DASNY raised any of the startup capital at all.

Meanwhile, as many as 1,600 illegal cannabis sellers continue to operate with near impunity in New York City alone.

A growing chorus of current and would-be licensees have pointed blame at McDaniel.

The Cannabis Association of New York, the state’s largest trade group, called McDaniel’s dual roles as a Cannabis Control Board member and DASNY president a conflict of interest, according to The (Syracuse) Post-Standard’s NY Cannabis Insider.

Though McDaniel is no longer on the Cannabis Control Board, he’ll still be involved with the industry’s rollout as DASNY president.