New York Will Open A Dozen New Marijuana Shops By Year’s End After Overcoming ‘Delays And Challenges,’ Top Regulator Says - Read of Green
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New York Will Open A Dozen New Marijuana Shops By Year’s End After Overcoming ‘Delays And Challenges,’ Top Regulator Says

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A top New York regulator says she expects the state to open a dozen new marijuana shops before the end of the year now that a court-imposed blockade on processing licenses has been lifted.

That would be a significant expansion on a relatively short timeline, as New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has only licensed 34 retailers to date since legalization took effect.

“Don’t miss your opportunity to support the legal NYS Cannabis market. After a number of delays and challenges we are poised to open a dozen new dispensaries before December 31st,” Cannabis Control Board (CCB) Chair Tremaine Wright said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday.

“And we are celebrating the success of our Social Equity licensees,” she said. “New York has opened the legal market with people who were disproportionately impacted by over-policing and divestment during cannabis prohibition.”

OCM announced on Wednesday that three new dispensaries will open over the next week following the state Supreme Court approving settlement agreements for lawsuits that had blocked them from licensing hundreds of retailers since August.

Those dispensaries will be located in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. But according to Wright, that’s just the beginning of a licensing wave to close out 2023.

This follows the opening of two additional adult-use retailers supported by the New York Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund in Albany and Troy last week—days after the court-imposed injunction ended.

“As the cannabis market expands, my administration is focused on protecting the health and safety of all New Yorkers, helping small businesses thrive, and building the most equitable adult-use cannabis industry in the nation,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a press release. “New York State is continuing to provide safe, legal products for consumers while we work to assist those targeted by the inequitable enforcement of cannabis laws in the past.”

As regulators process the backlog of hundreds of conditional retailer licenses, they’re also actively accepting additional applications for both recreational shops and medical cannabis dispensaries for the next few days.

Meanwhile, amid the state’s protracted legalization rollout, illicit cannabis operators have proliferated across New York, prompting the governor to announce that they would be “ramping up” enforcement.

In October, the New York Senate Cannabis Subcommittee, which was established in April and is being chaired by Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D), heard from witnesses and discussing potential legislative solutions to the state’s ongoing cannabis legalization implementation problems.

Meanwhile, Hochul recently signed legislation that attempts to make it somewhat easier for financial institutions to work with state-licensed cannabis clients.

She also signed a separate bill that’s meant to provide tax relief to New York City marijuana businesses that are currently blocked from making federal deductions under an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code known as 280E.

While Hochul signed a an earlier budget bill last year that included provisions allow state-level cannabis business tax deductions—a partial remedy to the ongoing federal issue—New York City has its own tax laws that weren’t affected by that change. The new measure is meant to fill that policy gap.

However, the governor vetoed a pair of bills last week that would have allowed hemp seeds to be included in animal feed for pets, horses and camelids such as llamas and alpacas—citing a lack of information about the safety of such uses, which she wants the state to study in an “expeditious manner.”

As part of the state’s effort to speed consumer access to legal marijuana, regulators also launched a program, known as the Cannabis Growers Showcase (CGS), an initiative of OCM that allowed licensed growers and processors to sell directly to consumers. That program has since ended, but a key Assembly lawmaker says he will be filing legislation meant to extend it.

In September, 66 state lawmakers—about a third of the entire state legislature—also wrote to Hochul urging her to sign a bill that would allow licensed marijuana producers to sell products to tribal retailers. The plan would offer a release valve to hundreds of cannabis farmers who are currently sitting on surpluses but have no place to sell their products.

Meanwhile, New York regulators are working to debunk what they say is the “false” narrative that cannabis is commonly contaminated with fentanyl—a “misconception” that remains “widespread” despite a lack of evidence. OCM recently put out a factsheet on the issue, acknowledging that while fentanyl has been found in drugs like MDMA and heroin, anecdotal claims about marijuana laced with the potent opioid are so far unfounded.

The state’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) also recently revised guidance around THC testing for people in treatment for substance use disorder, advising marijuana screening only in cases where “the patient has identified a reduction in, or cessation of cannabis as part of their treatment goals.”

Last month, on the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday, regulators encouraged people to take advantage of the deals and support small businesses by shopping for cannabis at licensed retailers.

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Source: Marijuana Moment

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