Top New York Cannabis Regulator to Step Down

The executive director of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management will step down in September as the state looks to adjust its cannabis regulatory approach, the governor announced last week.

Full story after the jump.

Under upcoming regulatory overhauls to New York’s adult-use cannabis program, the head of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will step down at the end of his three-year term in September. The departure of OCM’s executive director Chris Alexander was announced on Friday by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) during a news conference that Alexander did not attend, according to the New York Times.

The governor has previously criticized the New York cannabis industry roll-out, calling the lawsuit-ridden and long-delayed process a “disaster” that benefited — and likely expanded — the state’s illicit cannabis market.

The announcement coincided with the release of a comprehensive review of the industry that the governor requested in March, the Associated Press reports. That report links the OCM’s struggles to its attempt to balance the legalization law’s social equity provisions with the agency’s more general licensing and administrative duties.

“Since its inception, OCM has operated as a mission-driven policy start-up, but has struggled with the transition to a mature regulatory entity.” — Report excerpt, via the AP

The report noted other issues with the agency including little experience among senior leadership and multiple changes to the licensing process that led to about 90% of applications needing to be corrected, which caused more delays.

Some of the report’s recommendations include hiring more staff to speed up license processing, streamlining the application process, and hosting “listening sessions” for the public to air their grievances about the licensing process, the report said.

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