Hochul orders review of New York’s cannabis business licensing after “disaster” rollout

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NEW YORK — The painfully slow process to open legal cannabis shops in New York continues and Gov. Kathy Hochul has ordered a review of the licensing of the businesses. 

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Only a few more than 80 licensed stores have opened since the law was signed three years ago, while there are thousands of illegal cannabis shops operating.

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Hochul, like many who submitted license applications, is frustrated with the rollout and tapped a state official to straighten things out. 

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“Governor Hochul has asked that we take a look at all aspects of the operation around the licensing,” said Jeannette Moy, commissioner of the Office of General Services. 

Moy was tapped to clean up the mess surrounding the state’s cannabis rollout, a daunting task. Hochul has already called the rollout a “disaster” and Moy knows she’s got her work cut out for her. 

“There’s nothing more frustrating as a small business owner or an individual who’s looking to open up a business, to not know where you are in the process. So I’m going to try to pay attention to what’s being communicated,” said Moy. 

There’s frustration all around. The Office of Cannabis Management said it has 32 people handling some 7,000 applications. 

“Tumultuous, scary, stressful,” attorney Lauren Rudick said about the process. 

Rudick has helped clients submit about 100 license applications, buts says some others have had an unfair edge. 

“If you had relationships with Office of Cannabis Management officials, then some people were able to get information as it tended towards their business plan a little bit more readily than others, which created some unfairness for those who are really trying to go through the process the right way,” said Rudick. 

Then there are the illegal shops flourishing across New York City, where there are said to be thousands across all five boroughs. 

“It’s an outrage that, frankly, we’re losing valuable tax dollars. It’s an outrage because these illegal shops are a scourge to our local communities,” said State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal. 

Hoylman-Sigal applauded the governor’s move and said the legislature wants to empower local municipalities with more authority to shut down illegal shops. 

“They are an eyesore and a glaring example of the ineffectiveness of government,” said Hoylman-Sigal. 

Moy said her goal is to have a more transparent process in addition to streamlining it to get things moving. But that will take even more time. 

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