Those hoping to get an early start as players in New York’s forthcoming adult-use cannabis market may have shot themselves in the foot for future licenses. The state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) sent out letters Tuesday ordering businesses suspected of illegally selling or gifting cannabis to cease and desist those activities. Failure to do so would threaten their ability to legally participate the state’s adult-use market under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), enacted in March 2021, the letter states. “You are hereby directed to cease any, and all, illegal activity immediately,” the letter states. “Failure to cease this activity puts your ability to obtain a license in the legal cannabis market at substantial risk. The unlicensed sale of cannabis is illegal and subjects you to substantial fines and possible criminal penalties.” While former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed MRTA into law on March 31, 2021, it wasn’t until September 2021 that the state’s regulatory authority got off and running through the current Gov. Kathy Hochul’s nominations of Chris Alexander, for the executive director role at OCM, and Tremaine Wright for chair of the office’s Cannabis Control Board. Under MRTA, legal, licensed, and taxed sales of adult-use cannabis can begin only after the state approves regulations set forth by the five-member control board. “We have an obligation to protect New Yorkers from known risks and to strengthen the foundation of the legal, regulated market we are building,” Wright said in a statement. “We will meet the goals of the MRTA to build an inclusive, equitable, and safe industry. Therefore, these violators must stop their activity immediately, or face the consequences.” With the former governor’s delay in nominating regulatory heads, Wright said in late October that New York’s first adult-use cannabis licenses will not be issued until 2023.
Cannabis Business Times, 02/08/2022 16:32:00