New York’s cannabis regulators have been, in a word, busy.
On Wednesday, Tremaine Wright, chair of the state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB), spoke at the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) offices in Manhattan as the Authority announced who would manage the state’s $200 million Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund. Also on Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the members of the newly-formed Cannabis Advisory Board, which will work directly with the CCB and the broader Office of Cannabis Management within which the CCB sits.
And, in a little over six months, all of these individuals and entities have worked together to begin to build, piece by piece, the foundation for the adult use industry that is expected to launch by the end of the year.
This effort has ranged from allowing hemp farmers to transition to higher THC cannabis at the start of the planting season, to creating a priority application window to ensure that the first cannabis shops that open for adult use sales in New York are owned by individuals who have been arrested for cannabis.
The CCB held a meeting on Thursday to continue that build.
Another 41 hemp farmers were approved to grow cannabis for adult use, bringing the total near 200. Hochul signed a bill in February to allow licensed hemp farmers in the state to apply to cultivate and distribute cannabis for adult use. And the cannabis that these farmers harvest will be the first to hit the shelves later this year.
Regulators also voted on Thursday to open the application window for processor licenses on June 28, and to close it on August 31. These license holders will be able to take the cannabis flowers that are harvested and to turn them into packaged products, like oil for vapes. Under the bill Hochul signed, only entities that hold a hemp processing license can apply.
All of these license types are conditional. Once the state issues formal regulations for its adult use industry, these license holders will need to transition. The only formal adult use regulations that have been issued to-date pertain to packaging, advertising, and testing.
There is one additional conditional license type for which the window has yet to open, and that is for retail. In March, the state’s cannabis regulators greenlit a proposal to allow people who have a record of a cannabis conviction, or have a parent or guardian with one, a headstart to apply for conditional dispensary licenses before other entities are allowed to do so. The aforementioned $200 million fund will, among other things, “finance the leasing and equipping of adult use retail cannabis dispensaries in New York state to be operated by social equity licensees.” The state expects roughly 150 such shops.
Also on Thursday, the CCB announced that Damian Fagon would serve as its first Chief Equity Officer. Fagon has serves as a board member of the New York State Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. Allan Gandelman, the president of NYCGPA, was also named this week to the newly-formed Cannabis Advisory Board.
In March, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes welcomed Fagon, an adjunct at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and the venture director at the HOPE Program in the South Bronx, to the Assembly Chamber by calling him a “new friend.”