New York is getting the ball rolling on legal marijuana. The state Senate late Wednesday, September 1, confirmed that former Brooklyn assemblywoman and a prominent recreational marijuana advocate, Tremaine Wright, will lead the agencies that will regulate marijuana sales in New York, giving a major surge to the cannabis legalization process after ex-Gov. Cuomo held it up for months. Tremaine Wright, a Democrat who lost her seat in last year’s primaries, earned confirmation to chair the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management, which were formed as part of a bill that legalized recreational use of cannabis in New York this spring. Chris Alexander, policy manager of Canada-based marijuana company Vill LLC, got the Senate’s thumbs up to serve as the executive director of the agencies beside her.
Wright and Alexander were nominated to the marijuana posts by Governor Hochul, who called the legislature back for a special session Wednesday to deal with the cannabis vacancies and the state’s expiring eviction moratorium. Then Gov. Cuomo never nominated anyone to the cannabis agencies though the state legalized marijuana in March. Critics say the ex-gov held up the proceedings because he was trying to convince the Senate to make the cannabis appointments contingent on also approving his proposed adjustments to the leadership structure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Amidst announcing the special session Tuesday, August 30, Gov. Hochul took a cloaked jab at her predecessor over the delay. She said, “There is 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.” With the selection of Wright as the chairwoman of the marijuana agencies, this could be a politically notable moment for Hochul as well as the cannabis community.
Wright, who used to represent a portion of central Brooklyn that includes Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy), has plenty of political clout in her old district and could be considered a favorable asset joining Hochul’s administration that is working towards cannabis reform.