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New York Cannabis Control Board Approves 109 New Licenses and Eases Advertising Rules

New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) yesterday approved 109 new licenses alongside long-awaited amendments to advertising, labelling and packaging rules.

As the state cannabis regulator continues its efforts to tackle the monumental backlog of license applications and make a dent in the flourishing illicit market, its new management and extended powers are seemingly making some headway.

On July 10, the CCB’s board unanimously approved nearly 110 new licenses, including 21 new dispensaries, 23 growers, 20 distributors, 23 microbusinesses and 22 processors.

Director of the Office for Cannabis Management (OCM), John Kagia, said during the meeting that the authorities new efforts to crackdown on the illicit market, thought to total 3000 dispensaries throughout the state, were beginning to bare ‘very green shoots’.

Under the new ‘Operation Padlock and Protect’, launched in May, some 160 illicit shops have now been padlocked.

This drove a 54% increase in legal sales in June, topping $71m, bringing the total since legalization to $421 million.

“We have seen material impact on our retailers as we have shut down illicit operators,” Kagia said.

While the number of licenses issued this year is now thought to be just under 750, less than 150 legal dispensaries are operating throughout the state.

Despite the increased speed of license approvals, following the issue of a further 105 last month, there is still a significant backlog for the regulator to address.

According to Green Market Report’s coverage of the meeting, one staffer suggested that 1306 of the 1850 applications submitted by mid-November have now been reviewed, but another suggested reviews were taking roughly 60 days to complete.

How the organization aims to tackle the 4000+ retail license applications backed up from December is currently unclear, with Kagia stating ‘it’s still a little bit premature to determine the strategy we’re going to implement for the December queue’.

Alongside the new licenses, the OCM also voted to push through a number of amendments aimed at easing restrictions on businesses ability to market their products.

The board proposed new advertising rules for cannabis shops, allowing bright colors, price promotions, loyalty programs, and more digital and billboard ads, aiming to compete with the illicit market. These regulations will undergo a 45-day public comment period before implementation.

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