New York Must Figure Out How to Fix Cannabis Mess, Hochul Orders

Gov. Kathy Hochul has told New York officials to come up with a fix for the way the state licenses cannabis businesses amid widespread frustration over the plodding pace of the state’s legal cannabis rollout and the explosion of unlicensed dispensaries.

The governor has ordered a top-to-bottom review of the state’s licensing bureaucracy, to begin Monday — weeks after she declared the rollout “a disaster” and called off a Cannabis Control Board meeting when she learned the body was prepared to hand out only a few licenses.

The main goal of the review, to be conducted by Jeanette Moy, the commissioner of the Office of General Services, is to shorten the time it takes to process applications and get businesses open, officials said.

The state Office of Cannabis Management, which recommends applicants to the board for final approval, received 7,000 applications for licenses last fall from businesses seeking to open dispensaries, grow cannabis and manufacture products. But regulators have awarded just 109 so far this year. The agency has just 32 people assigned to evaluate the applications.

Ms. Moy has “a proven track record of improving government operations,” the governor said in a statement, and will provide a playbook to turn around the cannabis management office “and jump-start the next phase of New York’s legal cannabis market.”

In an interview, Ms. Moy said her goal was to work with the cannabis management office “to identify ways in which we can support them as they look to streamline and move forward some of the backlogs and challenges that may be faced in this industry.”

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