Governor Kathy Hochul has voiced significant frustration with the state’s cannabis regulatory framework, signaling potential changes in leadership to address the slow issuance of legal licenses and the proliferation of illegal dispensaries across New York. Speaking in Syracuse, Hochul emphasized her dissatisfaction and the need for more robust enforcement against the estimated 36,000 unauthorized cannabis shops, highlighting that the state’s current team of 14 investigators is insufficient to manage the scale of the issue.
In response to the ongoing challenges, Hochul is advocating for legislation to empower local law enforcement to more effectively shut down illegal operations. This comes amidst recent actions by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the Department of Taxation and Finance, which have conducted 60 shop inspections, seizing drugs worth over $3 million. The governor’s comments reflect broader concerns within the state government about the cannabis program’s efficacy and its impact on achieving a regulated market.
The criticism from Governor Hochul and a bipartisan group of senators underscores the urgency for reform in the state’s cannabis industry. The slow approval of legal dispensaries has left many New Yorkers in limbo, with significant financial investments at risk. Hochul’s commitment to “right the ship” and her acknowledgment of the program’s shortcomings since its inception under former Governor Andrew Cuomo suggest potential shifts in strategy and leadership to accelerate the establishment of a functional, legal cannabis market in New York.
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