First Confirmed Nominees of Governor Hochul's Administration Will Move Cannabis Implementation Forward
Tremaine Wright to Serve as Chair of Cannabis Control Board; Christopher Alexander to Serve as Executive Director of Office of Cannabis Management
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the State Senate confirmed Tremaine Wright as Chair of New York's Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and Christopher Alexander as Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The confirmations were made during an extraordinary session of the New York State Legislature, and these are the two first confirmed nominees of Governor Hochul's administration. The Cannabis Control Board and Office of Cannabis Management will create and implement a comprehensive regulatory framework for New York's cannabis industry, including the production, licensing, packaging, marketing and sale of cannabis products.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), passed on March 31, 2021, sets out one of the nation's most comprehensive and progressive legal frameworks for the regulation of the adult-use, medical and hemp industries, with a focus on ensuring the greatest possible participation by communities historically impacted by prohibition. The law calls for a five member board to oversee the creation and implementation of the OCM and contemplates the appointment of a Chief Equity Officer charged with developing a social equity plan designed to facilitate and support participation by social equity applicants. The MRTA also limits the number of licenses that can be owned by one company and prohibits the vertical integration of production and retail services, further ensuring that small businesses have an opportunity to compete in the new market.
"One of my top priorities is to finally get New York's cannabis industry up and running - this has been long overdue, but we're going to make up for lost time with the Senate confirmation of Tremaine Wright as Chair of the Cannabis Control Board and Christopher Alexander as Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management," Governor Hochul said. "These two individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new roles, and I know they will do a tremendous job of outlining and implementing regulations that are safe, fair and transparent, and that recognize the need to remedy the impact that prohibition has had on communities of color. I look forward to working with them on building our state's cannabis industry and effecting real change for New Yorkers."
Tremaine S. Wright to Serve as Chair of Cannabis Control Board
Tremaine S. Wright is a former member of the New York State Assembly and currently serves as the first Director of the DFS Statewide Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment. Ms. Wright is an attorney, entrepreneur, small business owner and activist who is a second-generation Bedford Stuyvesant resident invested in preserving the rich legacy of her community and building a strong foundation for the future. She has dedicated her career to empowering and creating opportunities for her neighbors and her community.
Ms. Wright was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 8, 2016. She served the 56th Assembly District of Brooklyn, NY which represents the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Northern Crown Heights neighborhoods. She served as Chair of New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Foster Care.
As the former Chairwoman of Community Board 3, Ms. Wright fostered longstanding relationships with past and current elected officials, community leaders and a cross section of local residents committed to improving Central Brooklyn. She has served on CB3 for 13 years and previously held positions as the Executive Secretary, Treasurer and Budget Coordinator.
She has practiced law at Brooklyn Legal Services and private law firms. While working as an attorney at major law firms, Ms. Wright also served as a pro bono lawyer for the Volunteers of Legal Services' Incarcerated Mothers Project.
Ms. Wright also owned and operated Common Grounds: a Neighborhood Coffee House from March 2006 to September 2015. She opened the shop after realizing that her neighborhood lacked an adequate number of eateries and gathering places.
Ms. Wright is a graduate of Duke University and the University of Chicago Law School.
Christopher Alexander to Serve as Executive Director of Office of Cannabis Management
Chris Alexander is a criminal justice reformer, advocate, and policy expert. He is a native of Hollis, Queens and the son of immigrant parents who came to the United States from the Caribbean island of Grenada.
Chris is a seasoned politico with significant policy making experience. He has previously worked for the New York State Democratic Party, as a Legislative aide to Congress, as a Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, and as Counsel to the New York State Senate where he managed the work of several Committees providing oversight over the affairs of New York City and over New York State's criminal justice system.
Chris uses his legislative and organizing experience in the fight to end mass criminalization and the drug war. He is an advocate for social justice, racial equity, and a champion for civic engagement.
He is the architect of the Start SMART NY campaign to end marijuana prohibition and the lead drafter of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, New York's marijuana legalization bill.
Chris currently works as the Government Relations and Policy Manager for Village, a multi-state cannabis company. He is charged with engaging with legislative leaders and supporting policy makers as they look to expand access to cannabis in their state.
He received his BA in political science from Syracuse University and his JD from CUNY School of Law.