New York’s Cannabis Control Board: Second Meeting News

Hot off its first meeting earlier this month, New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held its second meeting on October 21, 2021. As will be the case with all CCB meetings, it was broadcast live and a transcript of the meeting will be published here.

The CCB and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) made several noteworthy announcements, which we will detail below. But we won’t bury the lede: still no clear statement on when we can expect the adult-use rules and regulations to be released.

Below is what we did learn.

The CCB and OCM are (Hopefully) Serious About Shutting Down Illegal Sales

In the last few weeks there have been lots of stories floating around about adult-use retail dispensaries operating in New York City, most notably Empire Cannabis Clubs. Our hope had been that the CCB and OCM responded quickly and decisively to shut down unlicensed adult-use dispensaries.

During the CCB meeting, Chairwoman Tremaine Wright definitively stated that all such activities are illegal and will be subject to “severe financial penalties” in the event operations continue. While the statement itself is great, we hope that the CCB and OCM, in conjunction with the New York State Attorney General, take actionable steps to shut down these illegal activities.

New York does not and should not have a “grey” market, and the continued (and very open) operation of unlicensed adult-use dispensaries is an insult to legitimate prospective applicants who are planning to properly enter New York’s forthcoming cannabis industry.

Another note on the subject: Chairwoman Wright clarified the contours of permissibly gifting cannabis, another “loophole” utilized by “grey” market operators. True gifting of cannabis between adults 21 and older is permissible. “Gifting” cannabis in any transactional context, be it in exchange for a donation or a purchase of merchandise, is illegal.

The CCB and OCM Continue to Staff Up

The CCB and OCM are “focused on continuing to bring top talent to the (OCM) and ensuring transition of DOH staff to OCM.” The CCB unanimously approved the first round of hires announced during the first meeting and Executive Director Chris Alexander has presented “an additional cohort of recommended hires to the [CCB] for approval.”

Release of Medical Cannabis Home Cultivation Regulations

Under the MRTA, home cultivation of medical cannabis is permitted for patients in the medical cannabis program. The CCB will be releasing the proposed regulations, will be subject to 60-day public comment period.

Certified patients 21 and older may cultivate cannabis for personal use with a limit of six plants (three mature and three immature). Designated caregivers may cultivate for qualified patients in accordance with the six plant rule, but may also cultivate one additional cannabis plant for each subsequent patient if they are cultivating for multiple patients.

An important note: the regulations do not permit home cultivation for personal use for non-medical cannabis patients. The MRTA provides an 18-month timeframe from the first adult-use sale to draft and implement adult-use home cultivation rules and regulations.

Update on Criminal Record Expungement

Executive Director Alexander provided a series of statistics on the status of the expungement of criminal records. Two important actionable items were included in the statement:

  • The automatic expungement process must be completed within two years; and
  • Individuals whose criminal records have been expunged will be prioritized as part of the application process for adult-use licensure and medical registration process.

Municipal Opt-Out Update

Beyond providing a summary of the MRTA’s opt-out provisions with respect to adult-use retail dispensary and on-site consumption licenses, the OCM will be providing information on its website as part of keeping track of which municipalities have opted-out.

Notes on Medical Cannabis Discrimination by Landlords

In response to questions by CCB members, Executive Director Alexander noted that the MRTA prohibits landlords from discriminating against any individual who is qualified a medical cannabis patient. However, landlords can prohibit smoking and/or cultivation of cannabis within the tenant’s respective unit.

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All of this constitutes another step in the right direction. We (like many of you) remain frustrated that the timeline for rules and regulations has not been released, but the CCB and OCM are taking actionable steps (both administrative and regulatory) toward getting New York’s cannabis industry up and running. We will let you know as soon as the CCB’s next meeting is announced. Stay tuned!

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