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Jeanette Moy Will Oversee Repair of New York’s Broken Legal Cannabis Roll Out

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Jeanette Moy, Commissioner of New York State Office of General Services
New York State Office of General Services

Governor Kathy Hochul this week took charge of New York’s troubled recreational cannabis rollout, and she appointed one of her top commissioners to temporarily oversee the process. Karen DeWitt spoke with Commissioner Jeanette Moy, who among other things, will be looking at whether an alleged incident of retaliation by an agency official against a cannabis business owner is part of a larger pattern.

Moy is the commissioner of the state’s Office of General Services. Hochul this week asked her to overhaul the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, or OCM, which is widely viewed as having botched the transition to adult recreational marijuana sales.

New York legalized recreational cannabis in 2021. By the end of 2023, just 24 dispensaries were open out of a target of more than 150.

Commissioner Moy says her top priority is to plow through the backlog of applications to get the legal stores open faster. 

“100%, absolutely, and it is hard to see some of this unfold,” Moy said. “I think all of us want this to be successful.” if you know the choices that that that I'm going to be making going forward.” 

The delays stemmed from bureaucratic issues, including a poorly functioning online application process. Additionally, a lawsuit last August stalled for months the issuance of licenses for those who were adversely affected by the decades-long prohibition on cannabis.

As a result, licensed cannabis growers were stuck with fields full of product that they could not legally sell. Applicants for retail licenses faced months, if not years, of red tape.

She says the experience also needs to be streamlined and more transparent for applicants.

“Are there ways that we can cut through some of the red tape that exists?” Moy said. “And even the basics of customer service — making sure that an applicant has better clarity as to how long it's going to take in order to get that license approval.”

Moy says she knows “the stakes are very high.”

“Some of them have been waiting for quite some time in order to get their businesses up and running,” she said. “I'm hoping in the next few weeks we'll be able to have a very solid both a plan and a way to move forward.”

Moy also addressed accusations of improper retaliation by an OCM official. Damian Fagon, the agency’s chief equity officer, was placed on leave after a cannabis grower accused him of shutting down her business after she repeatedly criticized the botched rollout.

The publication Cannabis Insider first reported that news.   

She says she’s not involved in that investigation, but she says she will be trying to determine whether that was an isolated incident or part of a larger pattern.

“If there is something that is systemic, then we will absolutely address it,” Moy said. “If there are bad actors, and we will absolutely address it.” 

Moy won’t say whether anyone at OCM needs to be replaced, but she says that is on the table.

The commissioner says she’s also examining whether the state’s laws need to be changed or strengthened to shutter the hundreds of illegal cannabis shops that have flourished while the legal retail rollout foundered.

Moy will oversee the cannabis agency for at least 30 days, and report back to Hochul with recommendations for change. She will also set specific three-month and six-month goals to get it back on track.

“We are going to find a path and we are going to fix it,” Moy said.

In a statement related to the governor’s announcement on Monday, OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander said, “We have built a cannabis market based on equity, and there is a lot to be proud of.”

But he acknowledged that there was room for improvement.

“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,” he said.