New York’s adult use cannabis draft regulations are expected sometime this spring, sparking a race to gain a foothold in the state’s nascent industry.
It’s hard to overstate the interest in what will be one of the country’s largest cannabis markets, in the world’s financial capital, and much of that interest is focused on the fine print of the rules to come. Cannabis Wire analyzed lobbying registrations on cannabis in New York and found real estate entrepreneurs, municipal and business groups, as well as ancillary cannabis businesses. (Cannabis Wire previously reported about the multistate operators, tech, transportation, and warehouse industries who registered.)
Here are some of the entities that recently registered to lobby on cannabis issues in New York:
Great North Distributors of New York LLC, a company created by owners of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the largest distributor of wines and spirits in the US, registered to lobby Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes to discuss “recommendations for distribution of cannabis in the state of New York.” Great North Distributors also registered to lobby OCM, specifically executive director Chris Alexander and Axel Bernabe, chief of staff and senior policy director for OCM, “regarding cannabis distribution regulations in the State of New York.”
Great North Distributors did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the company’s priorities in New York. The company previously signed a cannabis distribution agreement with Tilray in Canada.
Westchester Agricultural Partners LLC, on behalf of Louis Lanza, the owner of the Hudson Valley Hospitality Group, registered to lobby the Office of Cannabis Management on state regulations and rulemaking on “issues related to recreational cannabis regulations.”
Puff Corp, also known as Puffco, a vaporizer company, refused to comment on the company’s priorities in New York, though the company’s disclosure shows that it registered to lobby on “regulations pertaining to cannabis accessories, including electronic cannabis & THC delivery systems.”
Cannabis Wire also learned more about the lobbying priorities of some entities that previously registered. For example, the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce told Cannabis Wire that their registrations are still related to worker safety and testing.
Patrick Bailey, spokesperson for the Business Council of New York State, told Cannabis Wire that the group’s interests in cannabis policies have shifted. At first, the Business Council took “no stance” on legalization.
“Our biggest concern was from a business standpoint, we wanted to make sure that employers were protected,” Bailey said, referencing how employers might handle an employee who shows up to work impaired by cannabis.
“Now it’s shifted, since it’s passed. And our big thing is, we want to protect, actually the cannabis industry,” Bailey said, referencing their latest registration. Specifically, the Business Council is focused on legislation that would allow the cannabis industry to deduct business-related expenses, which Cannabis Wire covered.
“Our point is, whether it’s the cannabis industry or a pizza shop, if it’s such a legitimate business in New York State, they should all have equal opportunity and get the same benefits. That’s the one way to, no pun intended, grow economic development,” Bailey told Cannabis Wire.
Wade Beltramo, general counsel for the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, told Cannabis Wire that the organization has been “monitoring” standalone cannabis legislation since 2013, but hasn’t taken a position for or against legalization.
“As with many things in the state legislature, a lot of things don’t get our attention until they really start to crystallize into something that might actually come to fruition,” Beltramo said, adding that NYCOM priorities include public safety and local control as it relates to cannabis sales and consumption lounges, which by law, localities can opt out of.
Local control could also apply to cannabis cultivation, Beltramo said, because municipalities can’t opt out of cultivation.
“Quite a few municipalities that have their own electric utilities and grow facilities can consume a lot of electricity. And that’s a concern for our members as well,” Beltramo said. “And then also on the water and sewer side, the total impacts that those would have on our infrastructure and systems.”