The state of New York is on its way to having a comprehensive regulatory framework for overseeing the licensing, cultivation, production, and sale of both medical and recreational cannabis in the state.
It is the first of its kind in the country, and if the state would release the details of the proposed regulations by May, it could be possible for the authorities to start accepting licenses by the month of October or if not, by November or by December.
According to Mondaq, the website that publishes articles and reports from consultancy groups and firms, that is what Chris Alexander, the Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management of New York, expects.
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Alexander expressed this opinion at a webinar where he said that the stakeholders would be given a time of five months to six months to evaluate the rules and let the authorities make any changes that might become necessary.
This margin would also include a 2-month comment period during which the public can submit their feedback on the proposed regulations.
Alexander also spoke about the importance of not infringing the law because freeing cannabis from certain restrictions did not mean that it could be used like any other ordinary transactable commodity. He pointed out that recently, authorities had sent court orders to over two dozen establishments for giving cannabis as gifts to others.
Such gifting is not legal, and equally illegal is to give cannabis, as some others did, to clients along with other expensive items during a purchase. The punishment for such acts may not be severe but they are illegal all the same, and businesses have to desist from it.
OCM, the agency that Alexander heads, is not keen on dealing too severely with those who continue to be involved in cannabis activities that are not fully legal. Many of these operators, who belong to the underprivileged sections of society, are using their cannabis business to make a livelihood and take care of their families.
According to Alexander, the authorities are aware of it but their overall strategy is not to interfere in that space before full legalization of recreational cannabis takes place.
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The authorities, who are trying to put in place the regulations for legalizing marijuana business, are trying to find ways through which fringe operators can be turned into licensed operators. Alexander emphasized that policy planners were trying to bring about as much change as possible, by, first of all, bringing education to everyone, and creating awareness.
He expressed the hope that cannabis dealers would heed the warnings and also pointed out that ignoring the guidelines and directives could lead to difficulties.
Policy formulators are doing their best to incorporate into legal avenues, even those businesses that are operating outside the law. The process is ongoing and he appeared optimistic that those operating in the shadows would understand this reality and cooperate.