Tremaine Wright, the former assembly member for Brooklyn’s 56th District, has been appointed to lead the state’s implementation of its new marijuana policy.

Wright was tapped by Governor Kathy Hochul to serve as chair of the Cannabis Control Board, while policy expert and criminal justice reformer Christopher Alexander will serve as executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management.

The pair are the first confirmed members of Hochul’s administration. Together they will create and implement a regulatory framework for New York’s cannabis industry, including the production, licensing, packaging, marketing and sale of cannabis products.

Wright, an attorney, entrepreneur, small business owner and activist, is currently serving as the first director of the DFS Statewide Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment. She is a second-generation Bed-Stuy resident, and former chairwoman of Community Board 3.

Alexander is a criminal justice reformer, advocate, and policy expert, who is a native of Hollis, Queens. 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.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), passed on March 31, 2021, sets a legal framework 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, Hochul said in a press release.

The law calls for a five member board to create the Office of Cannabis Management, and sets guidelines for the appointment of a chief equity officer responsible for developing a plan to 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, with the aim of giving small businesses the opportunity to compete in the new market. 

Hochul said one of her top priorities was 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.”

“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,” she said.

“I look forward to working with them on building our state’s cannabis industry and effecting real change for New Yorkers.”

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