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NY Cannabis Management Leader Chris Alexander Resigns Early, Leaving Post Unfilled

The embattled head of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), Chris Alexander, has officially resigned from his post early, leaving the organization without a clear leader.

Earlier this month, Business of Cannabis reported that Alexander, who has helmed the OCM since 2021 and overseen the state’s first troubled steps into adult-use cannabis legalization, was being urged to step down.

His departure was initially announced in early May following the publication of an ‘top down’ internal review into the regulators handling of the programme’s rollout.

The report highlighted key issues within the organisation, stating its culture had led to ‘confusion, difficulty and delay’ in rolling out its landmark cannabis framework, which has been plagued with lawsuits, the proliferation of illicit businesses, and the frustration of those trying to operate legally.

It also highlighted the inability of the understaffed licensing team to keep up with the more than 5600 applications that have been submitted, some 90% of which reportedly require corrections, laying bare the complexity and confusion surrounding the process.

Alexander had initially been slated to depart at the end of September, allowing time for a replacement to be found and a handover period to take place.

However, the Times Union now reports that the Executive Director has informed New York Governor Kathy Hochul of his intention to depart in just two weeks (June 07).

In his resignation letter, shared across social media after the news broke on Friday, he said: “I have been reluctant to write this email due to the deep connection and commitment I have to this work and to this Team.

“And while I planned to serve out the remainder of my term, I no longer have confidence in my ability to do my job and lead this team effectively under current circumstances.”

In response Hochul stated: “I am grateful for Chris Alexander’s work, first in developing and securing the passage of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act and then in launching the Office of Cannabis Management.

“Under Mr. Alexander’s leadership, New York took its first steps toward developing a robust legal market that elevates those disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, and as OCM transitions into its next phase, we look forward to continuing the work of building the strongest, most equitable industry in the nation. That has and always will be our mission, because it is what New Yorkers expect and deserve.”

A successor has not yet been named, leaving it unclear who will lead the regulator as it continues to face pressure from the governor’s office and battle mounting lawsuits into its conduct.

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