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Medical marijuana sellers have urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to allow them to peddle their product to all


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Medical marijuana sellers have urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to allow them to peddle their product to all adult consumers — after being blocked from the Empire State’s law legalizing pot sales.

The four medical cannabis operators — who were the first in New York to be authorized to sell marijuana, but only for medicinal purposes — implored Hochul to reverse course and offer them licenses so they can help ramp up the state’s slow and rocky rollout and boost sales and tax revenues.


“OCM [Office of Cannabis Management] has ignored the collective wisdom of every other state with an adult-use cannabis program – most recently Maryland – to permit existing medical operators to stand up the adult-use market,” the operators wrote in an Aug. 31 letter to the governor, obtained by The Post.



“OCM has abused its authority under New York’s adult use law, played politics with the licensing process, and allowed thousands of unregulated, commercial scale sellers to flood the market with unregulated and unsafe cannabis products,” the strongly-worded letter continues. “Today, the State’s entire cannabis ecosystem is in dire need of a new direction.”

Under the law approved by the state legislature, regulators gave the first retail cannabis licenses to convicted pot dealers – in a licensing program that is now tied up in the courts after disabled veterans sued claiming they were being unfairly left out.


The video player is currently playing an ad. You can skip the ad in 5 sec with a mouse or keyboardGov. Kathy Hochul is being asked to allow medical marijuana sellers to sell their product to adult consumers.ZUMAPRESS.com


The letter to Hochul noted a huge number of illicit pot shops that have sprouted up while only 23 state-licensed dispensaries have opened, thus allowing illegal operators to cannibalize the market without paying taxes, with some selling tainted weed.


“The state’s ineptitude is endangering New Yorkers who wish to use cannabis safely and legally, while also hurting taxpayers,” said the letter, signed by Matt Darin, CEO of Curealeaf; Brett Novey, CEO of PharmaCann; Ben Kover, CEO of GTI and Denis Curran, CEO of Acreage.

The medical pot operators claimed that immediately issuing them licenses would more than double the number of adult-use marijuana dispensaries in the state, while helping other cannabis sellers, including convicted pot dealers, sustain their own business.


Four medical cannabis operators urged Hochul offer them licenses so they can help the state’s rollout and boost sales and tax revenues.Getty Images/ Spencer Platt


The operators pointed out that they have a built-in infrastructure to provide a stable supply chain of safe, tested, and taxed cannabis products for new stores.


“For years, New Yorkers have trusted us to build and grow the Empire State’s medical cannabis program,” they wrote. “Now, a decade later, our plea is simple: Direct OCM to authorize registered organizations to begin adult-use cultivation and dispensary operations without delay, so the State’s legal cannabis market can thrive for all participants, creating a reliable revenue and job generating industry for decades to come.”


New York state in 2014 approved the sale of marijuana for prescribed medical purposes, and seven years later legalized the recreational sale of cannabis.


The letter to Hochul listed a number of illicit pot shops that have popped up while only 23 state-licensed dispensaries have opened.Corbis via Getty Images/Leonardo Munoz


State lawmakers and regulators, however, reserved the first batch of cannabis retail licenses to applicants convicted of pot-related offenses, saying they wanted to give victims of the war on drugs a chance to compete in the market instead of having the big medical weed firms dominate.


But other advocates bitterly complained, accusing Hochul’s administration of discriminating against disabled military vets and other applicants — including medical marijuana operators — by prioritizing convicted drug felons in awarding the pot sales licenses.


Albany state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Bryant last month imposed an injunction blocking the issuing of any more licenses, concluding the state likely broke the law by giving convicted pot felons preference over other social equity applicants, including disabled vets.


The medical pot operators claimed that immediately issuing them licenses would more than double the number of adult-use marijuana dispensaries in the state.James Keivom


Bryant last week also said he wouldn’t allow 23 vendors to be exempt from his freeze on recreational weed licenses because OCM hadn’t shown that they met all requirements to open up shop.


Rules approved by the state Cannabis Control Board in May allows 10 medical marijuana stores to sell cannabis to the public, not just ailing patients, but only beginning Dec. 30. Another 20 of the medical pot stores can start sales to the public by June 30, 2024.

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The medical cannabis operators also would be required to pay a $5 million license fee to expand and pay millions more based on revenue earned

Hochul’s office said it is reviewing the letter from the medical cannabis operators.

“New York State is establishing the most equitable adult-use cannabis market in the nation that offers consumers high-quality, New York-grown, processed and tested products while addressing the wrongs of the past,” said Hochul spokesman John Lindsay.


“Governor Hochul will continue her efforts to expand and improve New York’s cannabis market.”


The governor’s office noted licensees have recently launched “Cannabis Growers Showcases” — akin to farmers’ markets — that were approved by the Cannabis Control Board to help farmers and retailers sell weed.


At the same time, the Hochul administration has stepped up enforcement efforts in partnership with state and local enforcement authorities that have resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of illegally sold pot at unlicensed smoke shops.

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