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New York Cannabis Regulators Could Soon be Sacked Amid Growing Frustration with License Rollout

New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul has doubled down on her criticism of the roll out of the state’s cannabis programme, suggesting she could impose leadership changes at the state’s regulator.

Last week, as the state’s Office for Cannabis Management (OCM) faced further legal challenges aiming to halt the licencing process, the Democratic Governor called the program a ‘disaster’, adding that she thought it was unlikely the programme could be fixed without significant changes to the law itself.

During a budget discussion in Syracuse on Monday (February 05), Ms Hochul was asked whether the OCM’s leadership should be concerned about their jobs given the continued frustration from stakeholders about the snail’s pace of the licence rollout, which has enabled an illicit market to flourish.

She replied: “I’m not satisfied. I want more enforcement, I want to make sure that we are looking at leadership. I’m looking at opportunities to make major changes.”

Adding that the state’s 14 investigators currently tasked with managing the issue were insufficient, Ms Hochul suggested local law enforcement could be given new powers to shut down unlicensed businesses.

It came as the OCM announced that its investigators had inspected just 60 cannabis stores over the past few years, seizing hundreds of pounds of cannabis worth over $3m. This is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the estimated 36,000 unlicensed shops now operating in the state.

Her criticisms are supported not just by stakeholders currently battling to keep their businesses afloat as they wait for licences or compete with the black market, but also by six of the 12 members of the Senate Subcommittee on Cannabis, who wrote to the state’s regulators on Friday calling on them to ‘do better’.

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