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New York’s OCM Head Resigns in Wake of Gov. Hochul’s Criticism

Last week, the executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management in the state of New York resigned. In an email, Chris Alexander stated that despite the deep commitment and connection to the work and his team, he had no confidence in his ability to do the job and effectively lead the team under present circumstances.

This move comes after Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her disappointment in January at how the agency had been managed. At the time, the governor referred to the legal market’s launch as a disaster and ordered that a review be conducted into the office by the Office of General Services.

A review criticizing the inexperienced leadership of the cannabis management office was released after the 30-day period lapsed. The report highlighted the inefficiencies observed in the licensing process, among other issues.

In its response, the Office of Cannabis Management criticized the report by the general services office, highlighting that there were considerable omissions and factual misstatements.

The Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition also criticized the governor for not reinstating Alexander as the agency’s executive director. The advocacy organization referred to the report as inflammatory and biased, noting that the governor’s decision posed a threat to the integrity and progress of equitable marijuana regulation in the state.

The conflicting reports have created tension between the Office of Cannabis Management and the office of the governor. This is further emphasized by Alexander’s decision to resign sooner than was intended.

Earlier this month, the governor also issued a report, noting in a press conference that the time had come for the agency go in a new direction. She also announced that Alexander would be stepping down when his term ended in September. The governor appointed him to the position in 2021.

In a more recent statement, Hochul added that she was grateful for Alexander’s work, mentioning his involvement in the development and passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. Alexander also played a role in the launch of the Office of Cannabis Management. The governor noted that the state looked forward to continuing to build the most equitable and strongest industry in the country, even as the office transitioned into its next phase.

In his resignation, Alexander observed that it had been the honor of a lifetime to lead his team, who he described as dedicated public servants. He added that the last couple of months had been difficult, but he had confidence that the team would stay committed to the objective and move forward.

As the recreational cannabis industry finally gets on its feet and many players enter the market, many ancillary companies akin to Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. (NYSE: IIPR) are likely to mushroom in order to get a piece of the action.

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