New York Governor Kathy Hochul. Photo credit: Shuttershock.
After taking up office in early August, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is steadily progressing the implementation of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). The act legalizes the use and taxation of cannabis in the state of New York. However, before his resignation, former Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders found themselves in a stalemate over the appointment of the members of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), delaying the MRTA. On September 22nd, Hochul announced her final picks to fill in the positions.
Cannabis Control Board
State officials created the CCB earlier this year after the New York State Senate passed the MRTA.
Former State Assembly Member, Tremaine Wright — who Hochul hand-picked — will lead the CCB. The five-member board includes Ruben McDaniel III, Jessica Garcia — both who Hochul elected. It also includes Adam Perry, and Jen Metzger, which the State Senate appointed.
The CCB will issue registrations, licenses and permits statewide for both cannabis and hemp operations, reports the Times-Herald Record. The issuing of such documents will reflect New York’s social and economic diversity. The CCB’s objective is to facilitate the entry of small businesses in the market, deterring the creation of cannabis monopolies, according to the New York Assembly.
The CCB will also establish public health and education programs to discipline citizens on the use of cannabis. Finally, the CCB seeks to develop and implement social equity plans. These plans will allow individuals who the War on Drugs harmed most to participate in the legal cannabis industry, reports New York’s State Assembly’s official website. That includes Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), distressed farmers and service-disabled veterans.
CCB Board Members
Tremaine Wright started her political career in 2009, after graduating from Duke University and the University of Chicago Law School. In 2017, Wright became a member of the New York State Assembly for the 56th district as a member of the democratic party. After her term came to an end, Wright ran for State Senate in 2020, losing to Jabari Brisport. She is currently the director of the Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment for New York State Department of Financial Services. On September 1th, the Governor’s official website announced Wright as the chairwoman of the CCB.
Adam Perry was chosen by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on September 8th to serve on the CCB, according to New York’s State Assembly’s official website. Perry is a Buffalo-area attorney. He is extremely involved in the community and attended both Erie County Community College and the University of Buffalo, earning his law degree at the Michigan Law School. Perry’s area of expertise is employment litigation. He also represented nonprofits, governments, and businesses at both the federal and state levels. He currently serves as a board member and chair for Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Aviation Committee, and the Citizen Planning Council, the Governor’s office reports.
Jen Metzger was picked by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, also on September 8th, reported The Herald Record. Metzger served one term as a Democrat senator, representing the 42nd district of New York in 2019 and 2020. However, she lost to Republican Mike Martucci in the 2020 election. She earned her Ph.D. in political science at Rutgers University. Metzger previously worked as a public affairs coordinator with the United Nations and at Rutgers University.
Ruben McDaniel III
Ruben McDaniel III’s appointment to the CCB was announced by Hochul on September 22nd, reports Marijuana Moment. Presently, McDaniel is the president and chief executive of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. He is a successful investment banker with over 30 years of experience in public, personal and corporate finance. McDaniel also served as chair of the Atlanta Board of Education and Public Schools. He earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas, Austin.
Jessica García was selected by Hochul on September 22nd, according to the Governor’s official website. Originally from Honduras, Garcia is a graduate from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and Harvard University. She is currently an assistant to the president of the Retail, Wholesome Department Store Union (RWDSU). The RWDSU represents food supply chain workers, as well as non-food retail and healthcare employees. However, she spent her early years advocating for public schools in New York City. Additionally, Garcia previously held a position as deputy political director for the RWDSU. He also worked as director of programs and organization at New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a nonprofit for immigrant workers.
Office of Cannabis Management
Officials established the OCM under the MRTA, which the CCB oversees, reports Cannabis Business Times. The OCM’s main goal is to issue licenses and develop regulations limiting how and when businesses can come into the market. Christopher Alexander will head the OCM.
Alexander is a New York native, and Hochul’s pick to become the executive director of the OCM. Formerly a policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), he presently works as the government relations and policy director for Vil LLC, a cannabis company based out of Canada. Alexander was also an associate counsel in the New York State Senate. Officials announced his appointment on September 1st, alongside Tremaine Wright.
In a web seminar in May, Alexander stated that the “social economic equity program is really an MWBE program on steroids, essentially, where we’re really trying to target the folks who want to access the market,” he added. “That includes people who have been impacted by prohibition, that includes people who live in communities that have been over policed. For marijuana possession offenses, that includes, you know, social and economically disadvantaged farmers who are struggling to keep […] products flowing and keep their industry alive,” reports the Green Market Report.
The Future of New York’s Cannabis Industry
With the appointments made to the CCB and OCM, residents may legally buy cannabis in the next three months. However, the Senate has stated that a more realistic timeline for the MRTA is 2022.
The MRTA will allow people 21 and older to carry up to 3 ounces of cannabis, and publicly smoke cannabis anywhere they can smoke tobacco, Marijuana Moment reports.
Some project that New York will generate just $20 million dollars from taxes collected from the sale of cannabis. However, by 2024, the state may earn $245 million dollars annually, according to Marijuana Moment.
“It’s time to finally legalize marijuana and create an equitable adult-use cannabis program that generates much needed revenue for New York,” read the then New York State Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, tweet on January 7th.
With the governor’s appointment of the members of the CCB and OCM, the time when the citizens of New York will be able to legally buy and use cannabis is fast approaching.