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October 5, 2021

New York State Cannabis Control Board Holds First Meeting

On Tuesday, October 5, 2021, the New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held its first public meeting. The CCB is charged with developing rules and regulations for New York State’s adult-use cannabis market, including determining the number of licenses available in New York State and issuing cannabis licenses. The CCB will oversee the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The OCM is an independent office within the New York State Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The OCM will administer the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).

After a brief introduction of each CCB member, about which we previously reported, as well as OCM executive director Chris Alexander, CCB Chair Tremaine Wright addressed several changes to the medical cannabis program, effective immediately. These changes are:

  • Whole cannabis flower may be produced and sold by medical cannabis companies to registered patients.
  • Any medical practitioner with a license to prescribe controlled substances can certify medical cannabis patients.
  • Registered medical cannabis patients may possess a 60-day supply of cannabis.
  • The $50 registration fee for certified patients and designated caregivers is permanently waived.
  • Regulations on home cultivation for registered patients will be forthcoming in future CCB meetings.

The CCB stated that the goal of these changes to the medical cannabis program are to provide more opportunities for participation by potential patients and to allow for easier access to New York State’s medical cannabis program.

The CCB appointed Jason Starr as chief equity officer. The chief equity officer will assist with the development and implementation of, and ensure the CCB and the OCM’s continued compliance with, the social and economic equity plan developed under the MRTA. Starr is currently the director of litigation at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. He served as counsel for civil rights and federal affairs to former NYS Governor Cuomo.

Before adjourning, the CCB approved the transfer of personnel from the NYS Department of Health, which oversees the medical cannabis and cannabinoid hemp programs, to the OCM. The CCB also approved OCM senior staff recommendations made by the executive director of the OCM.

Unfortunately, the CCB did not discuss adult-use regulations, applications, or give an indication of when adult-use legal sales will begin. Moreover, no mention was made of clearing up issues such as the legally dubious gifting of cannabis by businesses.

With the CCB and OCM senior staff now in place, there is hope that the drafting and release of adult-use regulations will be expedited, allowing New York State to catch up to its neighbors in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Barclay Damon’s Cannabis Team will continue to closely monitor developments pertaining to the MRTA’s rules and regulations. If you have questions about the MRTA, please contact one of Barclay Damon’s cannabis attorneys. 

If you have questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Jason Klimek, Cannabis Team co-leader, at jklimek@barclaydamon.com, or another member of the firm’s Cannabis Team.
 

          

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