It's been more than two years since the state Legislature passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act which legalized recreational cannabis in New York. However, since then the rollout of the retail market has been stymied by lawsuits, location issues and more. State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who sponsored the MRTA, told Capital Tonight that legal challenges and other roadblocks were anticipated, but not this early in the rollout.

Peoples-Stokes is "totally confident" in the Office of Cannabis Management's leadership.

The state has seen legal challenges to its conditional adult use retail dispensary license program and issues with finding locations for retail shops.

Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo Democrat, touted the state’s equity first model when it comes to dolling out licenses for retail stores in New York state. The assemblymember argues that the legislation was written with social equity partners getting priority because they wouldn’t get an opportunity when bigger players got a chance at the New York market.

One consequence of the legal challenges and location struggles is that farmers have had a lot of product but not enough places to sell or deliver them to. Peoples-Stokes says “we owe [farmers] something” for the investment they put in but may not be getting back and adds “the best thing we can do is to support them financially.”

Peoples-Stokes said there shouldn’t be a worry that established organizations like medical marijuana dispensaries will take business away from social equity licensees when they enter the market. Peoples-Stokes said there is a business risk in a competitive environment but she doesn’t think these two operators would take from each other.