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New York’s legal cannabis market faces criticism, calls for additional overhaul by Assembly Minority Conference

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay has sharply criticized New York’s approach to legalizing cannabis, describing the state’s program as a “predictable failure” due to bureaucratic inefficiencies. The minority conference has demanded greater transparency and auditing of the program, noting little progress in establishing legal dispensaries and shutting down illegal shops. The state’s oversight body, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), is understaffed, struggling against over 1,500 unauthorized sellers in New York City alone.


Barclay highlighted the problematic prioritization of applicants with criminal records over those with relevant experience and qualifications. This approach has sidelined many capable candidates, contributing to operational difficulties and legal challenges. The state is facing significant financial losses, with a projected net deficit exceeding $200 million since the program’s inception, despite plans to allocate $80 million to support struggling cannabis cultivators and processors.

The recent acknowledgment by Governor Kathy Hochul of the program’s failings and her announcement of a review indicate potential changes ahead. Barclay has advocated for the involvement of an independent third party to address the program’s issues, emphasizing the urgent need for improvement. With neighboring states like Massachusetts benefiting from successful cannabis markets, Barclay urges New York to correct its course and realize the potential economic benefits of a well-managed legal cannabis industry.