Cannabis Control Board holds first meeting; appoints CEO, top staffers
Rebekah F. Ward is reporting for the Times Union that during its first meeting October 5, the five members of the state Cannabis Control Board voted unanimously to confirm Jason Starr as the Office of Cannabis Management's first chief equity officer, as well as 21 other unnamed hires for senior agency positions. Starr is an attorney with experience in civil rights and social justice policy. He has worked for the New York Civil Liberties Union, the governor’s office and the Human Rights Campaign. Control board chair Tremaine Wright also announced a series of changes to the medical cannabis program, effective immediately. Those changes include permitting the sale of whole flower; allowing any medical provider who can prescribe controlled substances to certify patients; increasing the disbursement of medical cannabis to a 60-day supply; and permanently waiving the $50 registration fee for patient certification. The law that defines the board’s role set a deadline of six months for medical cannabis patients to be able to grow marijuana plants at home, but that deadline was not met. Wright said she expects that issue to be an agenda item at an upcoming board meeting. In his update to the board, OCM head Christopher Alexander also acknowledged that the new institutions were starting from behind. “...[W]e were not able to begin the work of establishing New York's cannabis market until September 22, when the full cannabis control board was appointed,” he said. “As such, we have a six-month delay to make up.” Board members approved the 21 new OCM staff members, but an OCM spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request to review the list of new personnel. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo failed to appoint board members, and but new Gov. Kathy Hochul has got the wheels moving now to implement the recreational cannabis legalization that the New York legislature approved six months ago. Read more in the Times Union.