Tremaine Wright gets around. If you've attended cannabis events in New York over the past year you probably have seen the chair person of the state's Cannabis Control Board speak. She headed the lineup at the Hampton Cannabis Expo in East Hampton on August 20.
Close to celebrating her first anniversary with the agency, Wright looked back at the year and made some bold predictions for the future. She said retail licenses will start being accepted on August 25 and predicted legal retail sales will begin on the state by the end of 2022.
“When you bring in the New Year, I want you to bring it in with New York cannabis," she said to applause.
The former state Assembly person and owner of a coffee shop in Brooklyn, Wright laid out her vision for a fair and eqiutable cannabis industry in New York State. Below are excerpts from her talk.
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We're working on the minutiae at this point... We want to see this industry blossom and bloom in New York State. Think about it - we've only been at this for 11 mionths... And so much has happened since then... Everybody said get it done fast, but we were hesitant and not sure if we were approaching it the right way. New York has had the benefit of watching and learning from other states. The Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board have been making strides. We're trying to get dispensaries open in New York State by the end of the year.
"There are so many different ways to define the harm that the cannabis prohibition did to our state."
We've expanded access to the state's medical program. We're offering flower, we've lowered the cost for access and we've enabled practitoners to make decisions on which patients should be using medical marijuana products.
We officially launched our cannabis hemp program. We've already issued about 3,500 CBD retail licenses. It's $250 for a license. It is a registration, not even a license. I expect the number to grow exponentially. Go online to get your CBD registration. We need to see that part of the industry flourish.
We're using this to restore our farmers across this state. These farmers are committed and dedicated to growing a trememdous product. I had a chance to smell the flowers recently and they were smelling good. They're using sustainable practices. They're commited to creating jobs in their communities.... Over 200 of our farmers, mostly family businesses, have licenses to grow cannabis in this state. Their harvest is coming in. They're producing the products that are going to our newly licensed processors. On August 15, we issued the first 15 processing licenses to existing hemp processors - so they can help us get the raw materials into a form that's ready to go onto the shelves for our conditional retail dispenary licensees. That's coming down the pipeline. We expect them to do everything from edibles to tinctures and vape cartridges as well as a host of other products we know consumers will be looking for.
"We don't want to see the predatory actions we've seen in some other places."
Equity and Inclusion Update
We're happy to learn from the mistakes - better yet, attempts - by other states to shape our program. That's why we ended up with a 50% benchmark for all types of licenses. Social equity applicants are women, minorities, service disabled veterans and also applicants who come from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the enforcement of marijuana prohibition....
This is a moment of opportunity. There are no limits on the number of licenses. The only limitation is your ingenuity and your creativity. Get your ideas together. We need you to come forth with your ideas in the request for the license so that you can help us grow this industry. That is going to get us to our 50%. You don't have to have an equity partner to get your license. You have to have a good idea. You've got to have the will to make that idea come to fruition. That's what we want to see in New York State. We don't want to see the predatory actions we've seen in some other places. We don't want people to think they have to bring somebody along. You have to come together and creeate an industry in New York State that's going to wow the rest of the nation. We need you to set the example. Everybody is watching New York State. Everybody wants to see what we're going to produce next.
Communities have been harmed. You can define the harm in health care, investment, crime and arrests. There are so many different ways to define the harm that the cannabis prohibition did to our state. We'e taking our steps and those of you in this room are helping us build an economic engine. That's going to be part of the repair. Those revenue dollars will be reinvested through our advisory committee and through our community reinverstment plan, so that they can support inititiatives across the state in terms of education and research as well as community-led events and projects.
"When you bring in the New Year, I want everybody to bring it in with a little New York cannabis."
The Application Window
We're opening the applications for our retail dispensaries on August 25. Thias is going to link the supply chain together so that we actiually have cannabis operations in New York State before the end of the year. Our retail license fees will be supported by the $200 million loan fund that Gov. Hochul introduced in her budget plan and passed in this year's budget. That's going to support hopefully 150-200 retail operations across this state. The first ones to open will be licensees who come from the community, people that have been convicted for marijuana offenses during the prohibition. These are also people who have operated successful businesses and have already committed themselves to community. These are people who come with a skill set to operate successful businesses and are going to be model citizens and model businesses for everyone else in the pipeline. These folks are going to help us get cannabis off the ground. So, when you bring in the New Year, I want everybody to bring it in with a little New York cannabis. That's what we're aiming for.
"We want to see this industy blossom annd bloom in New York State."
We have a lot to do. We'll be rolling out regulations throughout the rest of this year. We hope to have the complete package before the end of this year, so that when we open up in 2023 we're ready to go straight to applications and opening businesses. We don't want people to be discouraged, we want you to stay connected with us.
Go on our website - cannabis.ny.gov - and take a look at our proposed regulations. You are the practitioners, entrepreneurs and innovators. You can see the things that we miss. You have the insight to know how these things are going to operate and we need to hear from you. Your comments are important. They're incorporated, they are necessary. We definitely want an industry that's going to be thriving and I want all of you to be a part of it. We also want you to help us shape it. The last thing we want is to be making changes in year two or three. We want to get it right out the gate. We think we're on the right track. We need you to help us stay the course.