Pointing to delays in the rollout of New York state’s new law authorizing the use and sale of recreational marijuana, Sen. George Borrello proposes allowing local governments an additional year to opt out of allowing retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses.
His Senate Bill 7369 would extend the deadline of the opt-out provision from Dec. 31 of this year to Dec. 31, 2022.
Borrello, R-Chautauqua County, said overwhelming feedback he’s received from local officials and stakeholders was frustration at the lack of information available on what a legalized market will look like.
“Local elected officials are being asked to make important decisions with zero information,” he said. “It is unfair of the state to maintain the original deadline when implementation of the law is at least six months behind.”
When then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law on March 31, certain provisions took effect immediately, including legalization of the possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.
While local governments cannot opt out of adult-use legalization, they can opt out of allowing brick-and-mortar dispensaries to sell marijuana products within their jurisdictions as well as licenses for “lounges” where cannabis could be consumed, on-site.
All the regulations governing how the industry will operate, including the regulation of sales, allocation of licenses for cultivators, processors, wholesalers and retailers, and how to safeguard minors from cannabis use, will be developed by the Cannabis Control Board and the new state Office of Cannabis Management.
Borrello said months of delays fueled by disagreements over potential appointees between the Cuomo administration and the Legislature, have set the timeline for implementation of the cannabis market behind by at least six months.
On Sept. 1, the Legislature approved the gubernatorial appointments of former Brooklyn Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright as chair of the Cannabis Control Board and Christopher Alexander, a former policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, as executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management.
A former state senator, Jen Metzger, and Buffalo attorney Adam Perry were appointed this week by legislative leaders. There are two more gubernatorial appointments to be made to complete the board.
“Gov. Hochul has made it a priority to jumpstart this process,” Borrello said. “However, even if all the remaining board appointments and OCM staff were in place tomorrow, the timeline that was projected in March is no longer feasible. No one benefits by forcing municipalities to make a hasty decision when they still have so many questions about how sales will be regulated.”
He called extending the opt-out period “a common sense step.”
Appointed major in CAP
Borrello has been appointed a major in the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary.
Saying he was honored by the appointment, the senator said he volunteered for CAP to help raise awareness of the important work it does for national defense, search and rescue, disaster recovery and aerospace education.
The CAP, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, marks its 80th year. Founded during World War II, volunteer CAP pilots flew missions over the nation’s coasts and borders.
“Right now CAP pilots are flying missions for FEMA, surveying the damage caused by hurricane Ida and assisting with relief efforts,” Borrello said.
While CAP pilots are the most visible aspect of the agency’s service, the majority of CAP volunteers serve on the ground. The more than 61,000 volunteers are often the first people on the ground during search and rescue missions and disaster relief efforts. CAP volunteers also assist with border patrol and forest fire patrols.
CAP has a cadet program that provides leadership training for youth age 12 to 19.
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio is also a CAP major.