Following the legalization of recreational marijuana and Governor Hochul being sworn in, the ball is finally rolling on establishing an Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) in New York State.

The OCM is the regulatory agency that will oversee New York’s legal cannabis industry. On September 1, the New York State Senate convened a special session to confirm Governor Hochul’s nominations: Chris Alexander as Executive Director of the OCM and Tremaine Wright as the Chair of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB). Alexander is a former policymaker for the Drug Policy Alliance and was involved in the creation of the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act. Wright is a former Assemblywoman and current Director of the Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment in the NYS Department of Financial Services.

OCM Executive Director Alexander’s role will be to oversee applications for licensing and permits for manufacturing, cultivating, processing, settling, storing and distributing cannabis. CCB Chair Wright will be responsible for the number of registrations, licenses and permits to be issued.

The approval of Governor Hochul’s picks means that New York State is moving closer to establishing regulations on cannabis licensing. The state legalized recreational marijuana this past spring after the issue took a backseat to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Hochul ordered the special session by saying she wanted “to jumpstart the long-overdue decisions pertaining to establishing cannabis in the state of New York.”

Following the NYS Senate’s special session to appoint New York’s cannabis regulators, on September 22, Governor Hochul announced her Cannabis Control Board member appointments: Ruben R. McDaniel, III and Jessica Garcia. As board members, McDaniel and Garcia will help create and implement the regulatory framework for New York’s cannabis industry. McDaniel is the President and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York which provides construction, financing, and allied services. Garcia is Assistant to the President of the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, a national labor union representing workers along the food supply chain, as well as workers in non-food retail and healthcare.

The final two members of the five-person Cannabis Control Board include Adam W. Perry, Speaker Carl Heastie’s appointment, and Jen Metzger, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’s appointment. Perry is an employment attorney, while Metzger is a former New York State Senator from the 42nd District.

Now that New York’s Cannabis Control Board is officially complete, and the Office of Cannabis Management has a director, that means that the regulatory process of legal marijuana can start to move forward with steps towards licensing, cultivation, production, distribution, sale, and taxation.

Visit our Cannabis Law practice area page to learn more about cannabis regulations, compliance, and licensing.