Governor plans overhaul of NY’s cannabis rollout following scathing state review

Gov. Kathy Hochul has just announced a complete overhaul of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which is in charge of issuing licenses for marijuana dispensaries.

Rachel Yonkunas

May 10, 2024, 9:19 PM

Updated 9 days ago

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New York’s cannabis rollout has been called a disaster that has been plagued with persistent issues.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has just announced a complete overhaul of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), which is in charge of issuing licenses for marijuana dispensaries.
A 30-day state review of OCM found deep-seeded issues that created a licensing backlog. It found 90% of applicants for marijuana dispensaries did not get licenses and OCM did not monitor critical issues in applications that required additional information.
According to the report, a lack of transparency and inexperienced leadership hindered OCM’s ability to issue more licenses.
“We’re going to unclog the licensing bottleneck and immediately review hundreds of applicants who simply have been waiting for an answer,” said Gov. Hochul.
The governor said more than 1,000 applications that were submitted months ago still have not been reviewed by the agency.
It is a problem that business owners, like Osbert Orduna, know all too well. The Cannabis Place owner thought he was on his way to opening a store in Suffolk, until lawsuits and backlogs got in his way
“Everything stopped. Time stopped,” Orduna told News 12 last November. “It's like we were frozen dead in our tracks."
The state review focused on streamlining application processes and reducing the time it takes to open new cannabis shops. The state wants to increase OCM’s licensing team by 40% and plan to assign one point person to each application who can see it through to the end.
“What we absolutely need to do today is make sure that if we are telling folks we're going to get your application reviewed by January, then you focus on getting the applications reviewed as soon as possible,” said Jeanette Moy, commissioner of the Office of General Services.
The Office of Cannabis Management has faced multiple lawsuits, including from some applicants. Gov. Hochul said she wants to clear roadblocks for hopeful business owners, many of whom spent thousands of dollars to secure storefronts while spending months on a waiting list.
“We need time to evaluate who's been harmed,” Gov. Hochul said. “Did they rely on information that said you would be approved and was not? There's a lot of data. I guarantee it's going to be case-by-case.”
The state report also found that OCM denied 309 applications. Some of those applications have been waiting for a decision for nearly two years, but they did not find out they were rejected until Friday.


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