Governor Kathy Hochul Appoints Two Members of the Cannabis Control Board; Confirmed by Senate

Sep 02, 2021
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Governor Kathy Hochul Appoints Two Members of the Cannabis Control Board; Confirmed by Senate

By: Andrew P. Cooper, Esq., LL.M. and Terran Cooper

On August 31st, Governor Kathy Hochul ordered a special session, stating her wish to “jumpstart the long-overdue decisions pertaining to establishing cannabis in the state of New York.” This comes only weeks after the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who many in the cannabis industry criticized for the delay in licensure rollout. In the September 1st special session, the state Senate confirmed two appointments to the Cannabis Control Board (CCB). This comes as a welcome surprise to the New York cannabis industry and could speed up the rollout of adult-use licenses. Assemblymember Tremaine Wright will assume the role of chairperson of the CCB, with Christopher Alexander serving as the executive director.

Tremaine Wright is a former Democratic representative for the 56th District of the New York State Assembly, representing Bedford-Stuyvesant. Wright is a graduate of Duke University and University of Chicago Law School and worked as an attorney for the Volunteers of Legal Services’ Incarcerated Mothers Project as well as the City Bar Association’s Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP). For nearly a decade, Wright also owned and operated Common Grounds: a Neighborhood Coffee House, a project dedicated to the fostering of the community. Wright has been an outspoken supporter of the adult-use market, hosting cannabis panel discussions and workshops as early as 2018.

Chris Alexander is a policy manager of the multi-state Canada-based cannabis company Vill, LLC. Alexander was also an Associate Counsel in the New York State Senate and Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. In a May webinar Alexander said “What we have in terms of our social economic equity program is really an MWBE program on steroids, essentially, where we’re really trying to target the folks who want to access the market. That includes people who have been impacted by prohibition, which includes people who live in communities that have been over-policed. For marijuana possession offenses, that includes […] social and economically disadvantaged farmers who are struggling to keep […] products flowing and keep their industry alive.” Both newly appointed CCB members seem committed to the social and economic equity proposed by the MRTA.

The Senate and Assembly must each also appoint a member to the CCB, with Hochul still appointing two additional members. Governor Hochul’s appointment of a chairperson and executive director is a huge step in the right direction. In a few short weeks, Hochul has shown her commitment to getting the adult-use cannabis market operational, something former Gov. Cuomo was not able to do. Hochul was quoted as saying “There was no reason why simple announcements, in terms of who the executive director is and who the chairperson is, were not done in time. But I’m going to make up for that lost time.” The timeline of New York adult-use cannabis is still uncertain, but Hochul’s proactivity in calling a special session gives many hope that we may see licensure before 2023.

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