NY’s legal pot program starts to bloom with agency appointments

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New York’s recreational pot program is no longer a buzzkill.

The state Senate confirmed two long overdue appointments to the agency that will regulate pot sales in the state during a special session ordered by Gov. Kathy Hochul to fast-track the program Wednesday.

Tremaine Wright was confirmed as chairperson of the Cannabis Control Board, and Christopher Alexander was secured as executive director of the new office of Cannabis Management.

Wright is a former Democratic assemblywoman who represented Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Alexander is government relations and policy manager at the Canada-based cannabis company, Vill, LLC.

Four more members still need to be named to the board by the governor and legislative leaders, which is responsible for awarding licenses to cannabis sellers in the state. The appointees do not need to be approved by lawmakers.

Tremaine Wright was confirmed as the chairperson of the state's Cannabis Control Board.Tremaine Wright was confirmed as the chairperson of the state’s Cannabis Control Board.Gregory P. Mango

Hochul ordered the special session Tuesday with a thinly veiled swipe at her predecessor, disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying she wanted “to jumpstart the long-overdue decisions pertaining to establishing cannabis in the state of New York.”

Recreational cannabis was approved by Albany in the spring after being shelved by Cuomo amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

Chris Alexander was confirmed as the executive director of the office of Cannabis Management.
Chris Alexander was confirmed as the executive director of the office of Cannabis Management.
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“These two individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new roles, and I know they will do a tremendous job of outlining and implementing regulations that are safe, fair and transparent, and that recognize the need to remedy the impact that prohibition has had on communities of color,” the Democrat said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with them on building our state’s cannabis industry and effecting real change for New Yorkers.”

State Sen. Liz Krueger, who chairs the powerful state Senate Finance Committee and sponsored the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, said Hochul’s appointees to the cannabis board cleared her committee after being questioned.

“I am grateful to Gov. Hochul for demonstrating her seriousness of purpose and collaborative vision by moving swiftly to make such excellent nominations,” Kruger said, while also taking a swipe at Cuomo’s lack of progress.

“The process of implementing MRTA has been delayed too long, but finally we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.”

The growing and sale of recreational marijuana, which was legalized as part of the state’s $212 billion budget deal for fiscal 2022, is expected to generate as much as $350 million a year in revenues for the state.

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