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New York’s Recreational Cannabis Market Won’t Open Until 2023, Says Regulator

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Nov 02, 2021   
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Many celebrated when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a cannabis legalization bill on March 31 this year. It seemed the state would soon get its own legal recreational marijuana market.

But that cannabis market will appear later rather than sooner, according to the head of New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB).

As reported by the Rochester-based City News, CCB Chair Tremaine Wright recently disclosed that the state’s adult-use cannabis market likely won’t be established for another 18 months, meaning the program won’t launch until the summer of 2023 at the earliest.

“What we do control is getting (dispensaries) licensing and giving them all the tools so they can work within our systems,” Wright reportedly said. “That’s what we are saying will be achieved in 18 months.”

Wright was speaking in late October at a cannabis business symposium held at a comedy club in Rochester, New York. Her remarks were reportedly greeted with groans from the crowd.

New York’s CCB was established in September along with state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). Together, the two groups have the task of creating and implementing a comprehensive regulatory framework for New York’s cannabis industry, including the production, licensing, packaging, marketing, and sale of cannabis products.

The “Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act” cleared both New York’s Assembly and its Senate on March 30 this year, following hours of debate on its contents. The bill was then signed by the then-governor, Andrew Cuomo.

When the state’s market is eventually established, cannabis products will be available to those aged 21 and over. These products will be taxed at 13 percent – 9 percent to the state, 4 percent to localities. A “THC tax” will also be imposed, which taxes 0.5 cents per milligram for flower, 0.8 cents per milligram for concentrated cannabis, and 3 cents per milligram for edibles.

Forty percent of excess revenue from sales will be mandated to be reinvestment in communities disproportionately affected by the state’s drug laws; 20 percent will be divested to drug treatment, prevention, and education.

The bill also states that 50 percent of adult-use licenses should go to such social and economic equity applicants.

“For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences,” Governor Cuomo wrote in a statement responding to the bill’s passing, “and after years of hard work this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalized communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy and establishes substantial safety guards for the public.”


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