NY Senator Jeremy Cooney Announces Public Hearing on Adult-Use Cannabis Rollout
Senator Jeremy Cooney (D-Rochester), who chairs the NYS Senate Subcommittee on Cannabis, and who co-chairs the Marijuana Task Force as part of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, recently announced the Cannabis Subcommittee’s first-ever public hearing on the State's rollout of adult-use cannabis and ongoing challenges with legal retail access. The hearing will be fully open to the public and will be held on Tue., Oct. 30 at 11:00 a.m. in Albany, New York. Senator Cooney was appointed Chair of the Subcommittee on Cannabis in the spring of 2023. He also serves as Chairs of the Agriculture, Finance, Investigations & Government Operations senate standing committees are also anticipated to collaborate in this hearing. Potential testimony at the hearing will come from regulatory agencies, public authorities as well as cannabis cultivators, processors, retailers—both applicants and licensees. A formal witness list will be made public closer to the hearing date. According to Cooney’s office, it is notable that since the NYS Legislature's passage of the historic Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) in March of 2021, New York’s implementation of its adult-use cannabis program has had to confront consistent setbacks—multiple lawsuits intended to prevent the State's commitment to social justice goals, damaging court-ordered injunctions, and agency staffing challenges have all delayed the timeline for legal sales and created adverse effects on cultivators, processors, and retailers. “I am calling this hearing with my partners in the Senate because we believe New Yorkers deserve clarity on what has been done so far and how we can help the retail market going into the next legislative session. Whether you are a potential consumer or a licensee who has risked their financial future in this industry, you deserve on-the-record answers, and we will ensure a productive and fair hearing,” Cooney said. Cooney’s office further states that the Finger Lakes Region has been particularly impacted following a court injunction that lasted through May of this year. More specifically, official sources say the recent court decision regarding the legality of conditional adult-use retail dispensary (“CAURD”) licenses threatens to further delay cannabis retail operations. There are no adult-use dispensaries open in the region more than two years after recreational legalization, only pop-up sales through a “cannabis grower’s showcase,” from a retailer based out of Western New York. ”The persistent uncertainty and delays surrounding the rollout of New York’s cannabis market have triggered an agricultural emergency, leaving our State’s farmers burdened with surplus stock from last year's harvest and severe financial hardships,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We are in pursuit of answers and a clear path forward, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to securing the successful and equitable implementation of New York’s retail cannabis market.” “While we knew there would be challenges in implementing a law as historic as MRTA, we never anticipated that so many would work to stop us from moving forward, thousands of illicit sellers would open before the legal market even got off the ground, or national cannabis corporations would file repeated lawsuits to try to block the prioritization of social equity applicants,” said Senator Liz Kruger, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s well over two years since recreational marijuana was legalized and not a single dispensary is open in some regions of the state, including the Hudson Valley,” said Senator James Skoufis, Chair of the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee.