After being stuck in a state of limbo, New York's cannabis industry is set to be put back into motion by the new Governor, Kathy Hochul.
Andrew Cuomo, 56th executive Governor of New York, was forced to resign after countless allegations bordering on sexual harassment to sexual assaults.
The former governor also had issues with the senate. It was in the midst of this chaos that Cuomo signed the cannabis law in March. A lot of speculation went round then that the governor signed the bill to take attention off his many allegations. It worked for a while, till it didn't.
More women came out to tell of their unfortunate experiences with the governor, all of which he emphatically denied. All these and more took Cuomo's attention off his executive duties. The entire democratic members of the state, and President Biden called for the governor to be impeached. Cuomo however took the easy way out and resigned with shame.
He still maintained that he had not assaulted or hurt any woman in his time in office, and he apologized to his three daughters. His exit gave his lieutenant an automatic promotion to being the governor. Kathy Huchol was sworn in immediately after Cuomo's resignation took effect, she became the first female governor in New York state.
The state of the Industry
Gov. Cuomo signed the bill to legalize the sale of recreational weed in New York, only to stall the progress of the industry by refusing to set up the council's board.
The governor was criticized for refusing to launch the state's cannabis program.
The governor left the pot program on auto-pilot without the proper elements needed. Cuomo had been expected to select some officials to the Cannabis Control Board. The names of the nominated executive director and two other appointees should have been forwarded to the Senate for screening and approval. The state's assembly and senate also had a slot each on the board to fill.
Till the day his resignation took effect, Cuomo's team did not submit any nomination to the state senate.
Senate Diane Savino described the governor's buzzkill as a stalemate to the industry. Nothing could happen to activate the industry without Cuomo's nominations. Licenses could not be issued to dispensaries and other interested parties because there were no regulators in the industry.
Cuomo's inaction to establish the five-member board meant there were no ground rules for the legal industry to follow.
The black market held all the reins due to this.
Kathy Hochul's Plan
Governor Kathy seems ready to get into action. She swore to accelerate every item delayed by the former governor.
Although the governor did not mention cannabis once in the first address she gave as governor, the cannabis industry might get the push it needs soon enough.
Gov. Hochul has announced that she would produce her names of appointees for the cannabis control board.
The governor's team has revealed that Gov Hochul considers the materialization of New York's cannabis industry a priority. In the coming weeks, Hochul would be nominating three individuals with expert knowledge and experience to be part of the five-men board. The nominees would be representatives of the different communities in the state.
Jordan Bennett, the spokesman of the governor explains that the positions to be filled are very critical to the future of the cannabis industry. Jordan also added that the new governor is prepared to keep the selection process going smoothly while working hand-in-hand with the legislature.
Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, and the Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins have disclosed that Governor Hochul has started working on appointments to the cannabis control board. Speaker Heastie said that during a closed-door meeting held early last month, the new governor agreed that the legal cannabis industry is a priority and the state's government has to concentrate on moving the process on as fast as possible.
This means that...
The official regulatory system that would guide the sales of legal retail marijuana in New York will be put in place in the next few months—As long as Hochul keeps to her word.
As soon as the state's legislature approves the governor's nominees, the selected individuals can get to work to iron out what would be the set rules and regulations of very big industry. The executive director and board chair of the newly created office of cannabis management will be in charge of the distribution and sales program of cannabis in the state.
The sponsors of the approved cannabis law, Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly majority leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes are elated that the new governor has chosen to move the issue forward.
Few days before Hochul was sworn in as governor, the sponsors spoke with her and encouraged her to 'undo the five months delay' caused by Cuomo.
Hochul's swift action will be a win-win
The new governor also stands to gain a lot if her government can push the industry through.
The action will please the lawmakers in the state, especially the liberal democrats she needs to have on her side for a primary-free path for the next general elections in 2022.
The new governor has plans to contest for a full term and the voters would also appreciate her speeding up the process.
However, reports have it that even if Hochul can accelerate the process, marijuana retail sales will still take at least 18 months to begin. This is because of the multi-step process that must be completed to approve regulations that will implement the law. When this has been done, growers and sellers may then get licenses to sell.
Cuomo's foot-dragging has increased the estimated time it will take for recreational cannabis to be sold over the counter.
Who would have guessed that all that was needed for efforts to jump-start again was for Cuomo to leave the executive mansion?
Hopefully, the new administration will get it done before the state elections in November 2022.
Until then, New workers may have to keep crossing the border to buy legal marijuana products at retail stores in neighboring states.
Hochul joins a list of nine female governors currently leading states in the country. Most of these female governors have also prioritized tackling cannabis reforms.