The smoky haze is clearing around when New Yorkers might be able to purchase marijuana legally within the state’s borders.
Members on the Cannabis Control Board met for the first time publicly and are already implementing changes to the state’s medical marijuana program.
The Cannabis Control Board is in charge of not only the medical side, but will also be issuing regulations for the state’s new recreational marijuana program.
New chair of the board, Tremaine Wright, kicked things off.
“I'm extremely pleased to call to order the first meeting of the Cannabis Control Board,” Wright said on Tuesday.
Wright announced a list of changes to the medical marijuana program that will be implemented immediately.
Patients can now buy up to a 60-day supply of marijuana instead of just a 30-day supply, the $50 patient and caregiver registration fee will be waived and medical marijuana dispensaries will now be allowed to sell weed in flower form.
Since the medical marijuana program was first launched in 2014, dispensaries were only allowed to sell edibles and extracts.
The board also expanded the list of who can prescribe marijuana to include dentists, podiatrists and midwives.
“We are also very optimistic that the allowance of whole flower will increase patient participation in the program, due to the reduction in cost of the product that this change will have,” Chris Alexander, the new executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, said.
The board also recognized that it missed the six-month deadline for medical marijuana patients to grow plants at home.
“We have missed the first deadline,” Wright said. “Nevertheless, we are very committed to drafting these regulations and issuing them for public comments and expect it to be an agenda item on one of the upcoming board meetings.”
Local governments have until the end of the year to decide if they want to opt out of allowing retail stores or consumption sites within their districts.
Since the rollout of the recreational marijuana program has been moving slowly, many county leaders say they are not including possible revenue from the program in their budgets.
“We’re still getting through the determination of cities, towns and villages as to whether they're opting in or out,” Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said. “So we're not planning for and budgeting the expectation of revenue.”
“Many of us are leaving it as a zero revenue for next year,” Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said. “Whatever money does come in, we will use that to grow our fund balance, which is critical to our bond ratings anyway.”
Stephen Acquario with the New York State Association of Counties says the organization will be having a cannabis summit on Oct. 13.