After recent calls for New York State to legalize adult-use cannabis, there has been a lot of speculation about when such a program will be approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In this piece, we’ll walk you through the different scenarios and make a case for why we think the answer is about 24 months away.

New York State is ready to legalize cannabis, but when will we actually be able to buy it? There is a lot of speculation on this topic, but there are several reasons why it might not be there yet. First, the New York Department of Health is currently in the process of drafting rules that will govern the distribution of cannabis products. Second, Governor Andrew Cuomo has formed a committee to review the legalization application. Lastly, it must be approved by the State Legislature.

While we are still waiting for the day that New Yorkers can legally purchase cannabis in adult-use form, that day may be closer than you think. In its most recent report on the state’s medical marijuana programs, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has found that the number of physicians that are prescribing medical marijuana has increased by nearly 50% over the past year.

New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peeples-Stokes estimates that the first legal sales will occur between 18 months and two years after the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), passed March 31, 2021, takes effect. This means that the first legal sales will start between September 2022 and March 2023. To make these sales possible, New York must first establish a regulated market. The MRTA requires a license to manufacture, process, distribute, deliver or sell cannabis. These permits are issued by the Cannabis Control Board with significant input from the Cannabis Control Authority. The agency’s website was launched on 2. April has begun. The next likely step for the agency will be the appointment of an executive director. The Executive Director shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Legislature. In addition, five members of the Board of Directors should be elected. The MRTA provides that the Governor appoints three members and that the Senate and the New York Assembly each appoint one of the remaining two members. Peoples-Stokes estimates the council will be operational by the end of the legislative session in June 2021, according to the city’s report. Once board and office positions are filled, these regulators should develop strong regulations under the MRTA for adult-use cannabis, medical cannabis, and cannabis in New York State. This includes the establishment of an application procedure and rules for determining the criteria for issuing permits. Under the New York State Administrative Procedure Law, agencies must give the public sixty days’ notice of the addition, amendment or repeal of rules. Agencies must also give 60 days’ notice of a public hearing under the proposed rule. These periods are called notice and comment periods and, as the name implies, are necessary to allow the public to comment on proposed government regulations. Assuming New York’s cannabis regulators are appointed in June and come up with proposed rules in the same month, the earliest possible date for the first public hearing would be August 2021. If that happens, it will likely be another two months before the final rules are published in October 2021. Regulatory action is likely to be ongoing, meaning that proposed rules on a particular topic are likely to be published while other proposed rules are pending or after other rules have already been finalized. It is likely that New York’s cannabis regulators will prioritize rules and guidelines for permit applications, as permits must be issued first in any case to allow for legal sales under the MRTA. word-image-4307


Assuming Peoples-Stokes is correct in its assessment of board appointments, and assuming regulators begin to develop rules targeting disclosures, the board will likely begin accepting disclosures in late 2021 or early 2022. This will allow the Board to begin issuing permits in 2022, theoretically allowing licensed growers to begin planting in the spring of 2022 for harvest in the fall of 2022. This first harvest could enter licensed retail outlets and allow for the first sale of adult-use cannabis in September 2022, 18 months after the MTRA is signed.It is no secret that we live in a country that is very accepting of adult-use cannabis. However, some states are still very much behind the curve when it comes to legalization, and New York is one of them. On July 1, 2018, New York’s cannabis regulations go into effect. Under the new law, adults 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants; the sale of cannabis will be fully regulated and only legal licenses will be issued to businesses that are 21 years of age or older. This is a big step for New Yorkers, but there’s a long way to go. For now, here’s hoping this feels like a step forward, not a step back.. Read more about new york legalization 2021 bill details and let us know what you think.

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