Shake-up at the state agency that oversees legal marijuana

Cannabis Official Placed on Leave

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The chief equity officer for The Office of Cannabis Management is on administrative leave.

There are allegations of retaliation against people who criticized the legal marijuana roll out and Monday the governor directed one of her top cabinet members to audit the office over the next 30 days. 

The governor has described the legal marijuana roll out in New York as a disaster. Part of the state’s mission is focus on equity and diversity to repair damaged caused by arrests and prison sentences during the war on drugs.

But I’ve done stories that show people did everything the state asked them to do including renting or buying a space to run a store and they still can’t get a license approved or even reviewed. Think about this. Legal marijuana passed three years ago, and today there are only 75 legal stores in the state.

Berkeley Brean: “There are 75 stores across the state. Where do you think we’d be back when the law was passed three years ago?”

Sen. Jeremy Cooney, (D) Rochester, Greece: “Well at one point the governor and others talked about opening 20 to 50 stores every month.”

Sen. Cooney: “Look at our own community in Rochester. There are only two legal adult use cannabis dispensaries open in all of Monroe County, really the entire Finger Lakes region.”

Berkeley Brean: “Why do you think that’s the case? Why are we in this position?”

Sen. Cooney: A lot of the delay came about from litigation. A lot of starting and stopping. But my concern is about readiness.”

The audit by the commissioner for the office of general services is due in 30 days. It includes a review of the entire system. The director of the Office of Cannabis Management says he understands their operations need to improve.

Friday is a big day. It’s the next round of license awards. News10NBC will be looking for how many are here.