September 27, 2021

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High priority: Kathy Hochul vows to launch NY’s legal marijuana industry Cuomo stalled on – New York Post

3 min read

Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed that getting New York’s budding marijuana sales program off the ground will be a high priority.

Scandal-scarred ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature approved the law back in March that legalized the sale of weed in New York.

But Cuomo — locked in a dispute with the state Senate — didn’t nominate an executive director for the new Office of Cannabis Management or name appointees to the Cannabis Control Board, even though the Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act was passed months ago.

The Senate must confirm the appointments.

The appointments are necessary to set up and approve new rules and licensing for firms and employees in the emerging marijuana industry — from cultivation to sales.

During negotiations over the cannabis appointments, Cuomo was embroiled in a separate spat with the legislature over leadership changes he wanted to make at the MTA. He was ticked off after lawmakers blocked legislation to split the top MTA leadership positions into two posts — and a spokesman even suggested the transit agency appointments and cannabis ones were linked

Hochul on Wednesday promised to clear the logjam.

“Nominating and confirming individuals with diverse experiences and subject matter expertise, who are representative of communities from across the state, to the Cannabis Control Board is a priority for Gov. Hochul,” the new governor’s spokesman, Jordan Bennett, told The Post.

“We look forward to working with the legislature to keep this process moving forward,” the Hochul rep said.

It’s more than a token gesture.

Gov. Hochul vows to move forward on New York’s legal marijuana.
AP Photo
New York's first medical marijuana dispensaries are opening their doors on Thursday, as the state launches one of the most conservative programs of its kind in the United States.
The sale of weed was legalized in New York in March.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Hochul has discussed her desire to move on the cannabis appointments with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).

“They have spoken about the need to make appointments to the board,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Stewart-Cousins.

Heastie also said that Hochul made clear that implementation of the marijuana program would be a priority during a private meeting he attended with the new governor and Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday.

“She did say that that was something that she wanted us all to concentrate on — and we agreed,” Heastie said.

Under the law, New York will charge a 13 percent excise tax on marijuana sales, with 9 percent going to the state and 4 percent to local governments.

Cannabis stickers on a Weed World store window are pictured the day New York State legalized recreational marijuana use amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 31, 2021.
Marijuana sales could create jobs for residents in disadvantaged communities.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

A wholesale tax will be charged based on potency — a cent per milligram on edibles, eight-tenths of one cent on concentrated cannabis and a half-cent per milligram on flowers or buds.

New York officials estimate that marijuana sales could generate $350 million a year in tax revenue for government coffers and create jobs for residents in disadvantaged communities.

Massachusetts has been selling cannabis at local pot shops since the fall of 2018 — with many customers crossing the border from upstate New York.

New Jersey and Connecticut also recently passed laws legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use and are moving to set up rules for the new industry.

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