LOWER MANHATTAN — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is tired of waiting for legal weed in the Big Apple.
The mayor said at a news conference Tuesday that he thinks the state government is moving too slowly at implementing a system for legalized marijuana after passing it and signing it into law earlier this year.
“The State of New York needs to get in gear here,” the mayor said. “We had a big, long multi-year discussion over legalizing cannabis. We saw the state Legislature act. Now the state needs to do something about it. They still haven’t. So the state, the governor’s not named executive director for the Office of Cannabis Management, has not named appointees to the Cannabis Control Board…it is time for the state to wake up and do its job on this really important issue.”
The mayor also slammed the state for failing to move forward on congestion pricing, too, which has been a controversial issue for New Yorkers, though the plan is set to move forward. The timeline is unclear.
At the time marijuana legalization was signed into law, it was clear the process would be arduous: the state had said it needed time to establish regulations as well as a cannabis board that will oversee the recreational market.
The law allows recreational sales of marijuana to begin April 1, 2022, however, lawmakers have warned it may take longer to bring the market to scale.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who co-sponsored the legislation, estimated it could take 18 months to two years for legal sales to begin.
A spokesperson for State Sen. Liz Krueger, another bill co-sponsor, hedged the time frame slightly, suggesting New Yorkers could see retail sales next year.
Krueger said the road to legalizing marijuana has been long, but will be worth the wait.
“I could not be more proud to cast my vote to end the failed policies of marijuana prohibition in our state, and begin the process of building a fair and inclusive legal market for adult-use cannabis,” the senator said on back in March. “The bill we have held out for will create a nation-leading model for legalization.”
Opening new recreational marijuana dispensaries for adult use will largely depend on how quickly the state can set up the Office of Cannabis Management, a five-person panel appointed by the governor and state Legislature.
Full coverage: Marijuana legalization in New York and New Jersey
The OCM will operate as an independent office under the New York State Liquor Authority and is tasked with implementing and enforcing regulations governing medical, adult-use and cannabinoid hemp.
The cannabis board will also need time to solicit, process and grant licenses to marijuana providers and distributors based on a range of metrics, including social equity status and fair labor practices.
Part of de Blasio’s gripe with the state is their delay in naming members of the board.