More than six months after New York legalized adult cannabis use through the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), the state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held its first public session on October 5.
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inaction in appointing a CCB chairman as well as an executive director for the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) delayed the process. It took nine days after current Governor Kathy Hochul took office on August 24th to convene an executive meeting to negotiate these appointments.
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So what was the first agenda for the five-person board of directors at its inaugural meeting this week? New York’s medical cannabis program expanded to include whole buds.
New York OCM
CCB Chair Tremaine Wright – Hochul’s appointment approved by the state Senate on September 2 – made some details about the “extensions.”
“I am pleased to announce that we are instructing the OCM to work with the Department of Health (DOH) to carry out the expansion of the medical cannabis program under the MRTA,” she said. “The Ministry of Health and our OCM team are actively working on several changes that will take effect immediately.”
Wright said the changes include:
- The addition of whole cannabis flowers as an approved form of medicinal cannabis.
- Any doctor who is licensed to prescribe a controlled substance can certify medical patients.
- The amount of licensed medical cannabis that can be administered to a certified patient or specific caregiver increases from a 30-day supply to a 60-day supply.
- The patient and caregiver registration fee of $ 50 is permanently waived.
- The approval of facilities such as hospitals, residential facilities, and schools to become designated foster homes will be streamlined, making the administration of medicinal cannabis easier for patients attending these facilities.
Wright did not make it clear whether including whole flowers in the medical program would allow this smoking or if it were limited to Evaporation, but the program’s DOH website explicitly mentioned that the updated improvements on October 5th were for adding whole buds for vaporizing as an improved form of medicinal cannabis.
Whole flower cannabis products are not yet available from registered organizations dispensaries as the DOH is working on trademark reviews and approvals for the registered organizations that proposed the new form, according to the website.
OCM and DOH officials will regularly update the public, existing certified patients and registered physicians of the changes being introduced as the regulatory responsibilities of the medical program move from DOH to OCM, Wright said.
Meanwhile, Wright said the board was not ready to push home cultivation for medicinal cannabis patients, despite the fact that the MRTA has set a six month period for the CCB to regulate that cultivation.
“We missed the first deadline due to the delay in appointing the entire cannabis control committee,” she said. “Nevertheless, we are very interested in drafting these regulations and publishing them for public comment and expect them to become an item on the agenda at one of the upcoming board meetings. Expanding patient access to medical cannabis and improving patient care is a mandate that this body takes very seriously. ”
The five-member CCB was inoperable until the New York Senate and Congregation determined their appointments – Jen Metzger, Ph.D., a former state Senator, and Adam W. Perry, a partner at Hodgson Russ LLP – and Hochul made them final two gubernatorial elections on September 22nd. Hochul’s most recent appointments were Reuben R. McDaniel III, President and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), and Jessica Garcia, Assistant to the President of Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The OCM is the daily administrative and enforcement arm of a comprehensive regulatory structure created to oversee medical cannabis, adult cannabis, and cannabinoid hemp within the state. It was founded to be headed by the five-person CCB.
According to OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander, who was also appointed by Hochul and approved by the Senate on September 2, New York’s medical cannabis program currently includes 151,070 certified patients and 3,367 resident physicians, as well as 10 registered organizations with 38 pharmacies and two more to follow soon.
Some industry advocacy groups have expressed dissatisfaction with CCB’s inaction to regulate the home growing of patients.
Alexander explained the delay.
“The MRTA went into effect on March 31,” said Alexander. “We couldn’t start establishing the New York cannabis market until September 22nd, when the entire Cannabis Control Board was appointed. So we have to make up for a six-month delay. Therefore, one of my priorities from the start has been to fill the Office of Cannabis Management with qualified and determined people who have the necessary experience to ensure that we are successful. “
The CCB unanimously approved a resolution to appoint Jason Starr as OCM’s chief equity officer. Starr has over a decade of experience as an attorney, educator, organizer, and innovator in civil rights and social justice.
In addition, a package of initial hires for other senior positions within the OCM was presented to the CCB members on Tuesday and unanimously approved on the recommendation of Alexander.
McDaniel praised the administrative efforts to fill the positions in less than two weeks.
“One of the things she said when Governor Hochul appointed me to this position was, ‘You have to act quickly,’ and to act quickly, we need good people,” said McDaniel. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with several of them, so I know some of the names. I’ve also heard from other people by names I don’t know [and] how qualified you are. And when I looked at the résumés, I was very impressed with the team we put together. “
The date for the next CCB meeting will be announced.