New York Cannabis Control Board Dishes Out Whole Flower at First Meeting

More than six months after New York legalized adult-use through the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), the state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held its first public meeting Oct. 5.

Inaction by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in appointing a CCB chairperson as well as an executive director for the Office of Management (OCM) held up the process. It took current Gov. Kathy Hochul nine days after assuming the governor’s office Aug. 24 to call an executive session to make those appointments.

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So, what was the five-member board’s first order of business during its inaugural meeting this week? To expand New York’s medical cannabis program to include the use of whole flower.

New York OCMWright

CCB Chairwoman Tremaine Wright—Hochul’s appointee who was confirmed by the state Senate on Sept. 2—provided some detail about the “enhancements.”

“I am excited to announce that we are directing the OCM to work with the Department of Health (DOH) to execute the expansion of the medical cannabis program pursuant to the MRTA,” she said. “The Department of Health and our OCM team are actively working on several changes, which will take effect immediately.”

Wright said the changes include:  

    The addition of whole cannabis flower as an approved form of medical cannabis.Any practitioner who has a license to prescribe a controlled substance is able to certify medical patients.The amount of approved medical cannabis that may be dispensed to a certified patient or a designated caregiver increases from a 30-day supply to a 60-day supply.The patient and caregiver $50 registration fee is permanently waived. The approval for facilities, such as hospitals, residential facilities and schools, to become designated caregiver sites will be streamlined, making the administration of medical cannabis easier for patients who go to those facilities.

    Wright did not make clear whether the addition of whole flower to the medical program would permit smoking or if it would be limited to vaporization, but the program’s DOH website specifically mentioned that the Oct. 5 updated enhancements pertained to adding whole flower for vaporization as an improved form of medical cannabis.

    Whole flower cannabis products are not yet available at registered organization dispensing facilities, as the DOH is working on brand reviews and approvals for those registered organizations that have proposed the new form, according to the website.

    OCM and DOH officials will provide regular updates on the rollout of the changes to the public, existing certified patients and registered practitioners, as the medical program’s regulatory responsibilities transition from DOH to OCM, Wright said.

    Meanwhile, Wright said the board was not yet ready to move forward on advancing for medical cannabis patients, despite the MRTA setting up a six-month effective date for the CCB to issue regulations governing such grows.

    “Due to the delay in appointing the full Cannabis Control Board, we have missed the first deadline,” she said. “Nevertheless, we are very committed to drafting these regulations and issuing them for public comment and expect

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