As legalized marijuana moves in NY, Savino cautions overtaxing will drive buyers back to underground dealers

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 Four appointments have been made to New York’s newly formed Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management under New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Set up by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Office of Cannabis Management cannot set guidelines or issue licenses necessary for residents to distribute, process, farm and open dispensaries and consumption locations until the 13-member board has been filled.
Hochul said one of her “top priorities” since replacing Gov. Andrew Cuomo was to get the state’s cannabis industry up and running.
 
Earlier this month the state senate confirmed Tremaine Wright, Hochul’s pick, as the Cannabis Control Board Chair and named Christopher Alexander executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management.
 
On Sept. 8, state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced his appointment, Adam Perry, to the Cannabis Control Board; Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins appointed former Sen. Jen Metzger.
 
Cuomo came under fire during his final months in office for failing to make appointments after New York’s adult-use recreational marijuana law passed in March. Cuomo was in office until mid-August.
 

 

SAVINO SAYS APPOINTEES SHOULD LEARN FROM OTHER STATES

Sen. Diane Savino (D-North), a long-time proponent of medical and recreational marijuana, said Hochul is “definitely committed” and is pleased that appointments are happening, moving the state one step closer to having a put-together program.
 
“We have to figure out how do we make people do something they haven’t done before, which is walking into a store and buy it,” Savino said.
While certain parts of the law – like decriminalization and smoking – took effect immediately, other parts of the law, like sales, cannot take place until all the state appointments are made, and tasks and regulations are established.
 
Savino said she believes all appointees should visit other states and speak with industry people, advocates, and small business owners and entrepreneurs to analyze what went right and went wrong.
 
“One of the reasons why I suggest they go and meet with other states because many of the other states, they ignored that problem and they have wound up in a scenario where the illegal marketplace is thriving. That’s not helpful. You can’t overtax and over-regulate so much that people won’t walk into a dispensary when they [can] call their guy and they bring it to the front door,” Savino said.
 
“I’ve spent so much time working on this issue and I’ve seen so many states put forward these plans to create programs that are supposed to achieve social equity and combat the illegal marketplace and none of [the other states] have met those benchmarks,” she told the Advance/SILive.com.
The cannabis industry is further complicated by the fact that it’s still illegal on a federal level.
 
During her confirmation hearing, Savino said Wright, a former Brooklyn assemblywoman, had “no experience in cannabis” but said she would learn as she goes and still voted in favor of her appointment.
 
“For me it was more of a principal -- because I’m passionate about this,” she said. “I think it’s really important to know what works and what doesn’t work.”
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