What did we learn from last week’s Office of Cannabis Management’s (OCM) New York City Cannabis Conversation? A few things. But first, a refresher: earlier this year the OCM and the Cannabis Control Board rolled out a series of virtual community engagement meetings. The Cannabis Conversations are intended to allow:
“New Yorkers [to] hear directly from [CCB] Chair [Tremaine] Wright and OCM leadership about the ins-and-outs of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) and how it serves as a foundation for the new cannabis industry with a focus on health, safety, and delivering social and economic justice to under the harms of over policing during the decades-long prohibition of cannabis.”
The conversations are spread around New York State, with the New York City cannabis conversation taking place on February 2. The conversation was hosted by Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin and CCB Chair Tremaine Wright. Here is what we learned:
Adult-Use Rules and Regulations
The CCB and OCM are actively working on the rules and regulations. The anticipated release of the initial rules and regulations has been “revised” to late winter/early spring.
The CCB Does Not Plan On Limiting the Number of Licenses
In response to a question on how many licenses will be issued, Chair Wright responded that the CCB does not anticipate limiting the number of licenses. Licenses will be issued based on supply and demand, with the goal of issuing the licenses as the market dictates.
The Social Equity Fund Will Help Applicants
Lieutenant Governor Benjamin did not spend too much time on the details on the social equity fund, but one crucial nugget: the social equity funding will be available at the onset of licensing, not after. This is obviously a significant development given the concern that equity funding would not come in time to help social equity applicants.
On-Site Consumption Sites = Bars?
Chair Wright made two references to on-site consumption sites operating like bars, i.e. customers can purchase and consume cannabis products on-site. In response to a question as to whether on-site consumption sites can sell cannabis, Chair Wright reiterated that the rules and regulations have not been finalized, but noted that bars are the expected analogy.
The Medical Program Expansion Continues
The OCM expanded the medical cannabis program to allow doctors greater discretion in certifying patients for medical marijuana. A patient can now be certified for medical marijuana use if the doctor believes it can treat or benefit their condition. Look out for our deep dive into the implications of the expanded medical program.
A few quick hits
- Cultivator license applicants will likely have a variety of opportunities to apply. Chair Wright’s implication was that there will be several different cultivator license types based on different size cultivators.
- The THC tax included in the MRTA (with a higher tax rate for higher potency products) is intended to “achieve public health goals by driving consumers to lower potency products.” We knew about the tax rate. The intent of the tax is an interesting tidbit.
- The 40% of the tax revenue allocated for community re-investment will be deployed in the form of grants. The grants will be issued by a to-be-formed advisory board.
- The MRTA will create a pathway for legacy operators. The CCB intends to bring legacy operators into the legal market, and is working on how best to achieve that goal.
- In response to a question as to whether edibles will be permitted, the implication was that all variety of cannabis products will be available, including edibles.
Maybe not as much information as we would have liked, but we are getting closer to a definitive license application process. Stay tuned for our forthcoming deep dive into the expanded medical program!