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New York Governor: Recreational Sales On Track To Start By Year’s End

Although the clock is ticking towards 2022, New York still has the potential to open its first recreational cannabis dispensaries before the end of this year.

That is according to the state’s Democratic governor, Kathy Hochul, who said Wednesday that she expects the first official cannabis retailers to open their doors before 2023.

“We expect the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year,” Hochul told the Advance Media New York editorial board. “And then every month or so, another 20. So, we’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful.”

After it started on August 25, the application period for adult-use marijuana dispensary licenses has just finished.

Officials from the state stated that approximately 500 applications were submitted and that many other applicants were deemed unqualified and rejected.

Hochul announced that the first round of licenses for dispensaries will go to those who were convicted in the past of pot-related crimes or their family members.

“New York State is making history, launching a first-of-its-kind approach to the cannabis industry that takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past,” Hochul said in the announcement at the time. “The regulations advanced by the Cannabis Control Board today will prioritize local farmers and entrepreneurs, creating jobs and opportunity for communities that have been left out and left behind. I’m proud New York will be a national model for the safe, equitable and inclusive industry we are now building.”

In her interview with the editorial board on Wednesday, Hochul echoed those sentiments, saying that New York is striving to be “a model for the rest of the nation – especially with our desire to make sure that people who’ve been affected by the criminal justice system adversely … have the opportunity to work in this area.”

Hochul, who is widely favored for re-election, assumed the role of governor in August 2021, following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as New York governor. Cuomo was accused of misconduct sexually.

It was Cuomo who signed the bill legalizing recreational pot for adults in March 2021, but the state’s cannabis program did not begin to take shape until Hochul took office.

Within a month of taking over last year, Hochul completed two key appointments to the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, the agency charged with overseeing and regulating New York’s cannabis industry.

“New York’s cannabis industry has stalled for far too long—I am making important appointments to set the Office of Cannabis Management up for success so they can hit the ground running,” Hochul said at the time.

Hochul spoke with the editorial board about her efforts in getting the state-regulated marijuana programme off the ground.

“Talk about the rollout being jammed up,” she said. “When I became governor, nothing had happened. Nothing. It was shut down because there was a battle between the administration and the legislature over who would be the executive director and the chairs of the cannabis review boards,” she said. “So, I was given a lot of credit because within one week, I named people. It was a success. So, when I speak to people about being part of this industry, the first thing they say is ‘thank you.’ Because otherwise we could still be waiting and waiting and waiting, even for the most basic steps to be taken. So we’ve been moving along quickly.”