NY Governor Hochul Orders Overhaul of Struggling Cannabis Legalization Efforts

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has initiated a comprehensive review of the state’s troubled rollout of legal recreational marijuana. Nearly three years after lawmakers passed legislation permitting adult-use cannabis, the launch of the regulated market has been hampered by delays, lawsuits and an explosion of unlicensed sellers.

Despite recreational sales launching in late 2022, only around 70 licensed dispensaries and delivery services are currently operational statewide. This limited rollout, coupled with the decriminalization of marijuana possession, has allowed a vast illicit market of an estimated 36,000 unlicensed pot shops to proliferate, particularly in New York City.

Hochul, who previously described the cannabis program’s implementation as a “disaster,” says major changes are required to ensure its long-term viability. She has appointed Commissioner Jeanette Moy to lead a task force that will embed within the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) for at least 30 days to conduct a top-to-bottom assessment.

The review aims to identify opportunities to improve licensing processes, reduce approval timeframes for new businesses, and establish performance metrics to track progress. Moy’s team will develop plans to streamline applications, increase transparency, and implement any necessary policy changes to get the struggling legal market on track.

Cannabis industry figures have welcomed Hochul’s intervention as a necessary reset for New York’s legalization program. Operators criticized the sluggish licensing pace, noting it threatens legal businesses while enabling the underground market to thrive unchallenged.

The governor’s hands-on approach signals her administration’s commitment to righting the ship after years of missteps with rolling out the regulated adult-use system voters demanded. Experts hope the overhaul finally positions New York’s legal cannabis industry for sustainable success.


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