Gov. Hochul Puts New York’s Cannabis Licensing under Review

new york crossroads for cannabis program
Photo: Stephan Guarch / Shutterstock

ALBANY, NY – In her latest move to address the sluggish pace of cannabis licensing in New York, Governor Kathy Hochul initiated a comprehensive review to identify opportunities for improvement and develop a new strategic plan for the state’s disappointing rollout. Hochul tapped the Commissioner for the Office of General Services Jeanette Moy to rejuvenate the beleaguered cannabis management office by identifying and implementing measures to alleviate the backlog and industry challenges.

The state received 4,324 applications for retail dispensary licenses in 2023, yet only 83 adult-use shops have been approved for business—a far cry from the 400 Hochul had expected regulators to approve by now.


Chris Alexander, executive director at the two-year-old Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), expressed optimism regarding Moy’s appointment as a catalyst for change.

“We have built a cannabis market based on equity, and there is a lot to be proud of,” said Alexander. “At the same time, there is more we can do to improve OCM’s operations and we know Commissioner Moy, a proven leader in government, will help us get where we need to be. We owe it to operators across the supply chain and consumers alike, who are looking for more access and opportunity in our budding, regulated market. At the end of the day, it’s all about doing what’s right for New Yorkers.”

As a first step, Moy will embed in OCM for a minimum of 30 days to assess the agency’s organization, including several specific goals listed by Hochul:

  • Top-down review of organizational structure, processes, and systems with a focus on improving OCM license processing times and application-to-opening timeframes for new cannabis retailers and businesses.
  • Develop key performance metrics and an executive-level licensing dashboard to provide the executive chamber with a timely, accurate, and comprehensive picture of licensing activity for legal retailers.
  • Identify and implement changes to policy, procedure, and regulation (within the bounds of the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act) to streamline the licensing process and simplify application and review for prospective licensees.
  • Develop three-month and six-month action plans with organizational change initiatives, milestones, and actions to continue improving agency functions while developing a world-class licensing and regulatory agency for New York state’s cannabis industry.

The state’s licensing process has faced its fair share of controversies, including accusations of overreach, inconsistent guidance, and bias, leading to legal challenges and criticism from industry stakeholders. As many as 2,500 unlicensed cannabis stores operate openly in New York City alone, complicating the landscape and raising concerns about consumer safety and the integrity of the legal cannabis market.

If nothing else, Hochul’s initiative is a step toward establishing a viable, equitable cannabis industry in New York.

In line with mg Magazine’s dedication to delivering insightful and accurate cannabis industry news, we will continue to monitor this evolving story, providing updates as developments unfold.

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