New York adds Protections for Transgender and Non-binary in Cannabis Industry

A New York senator filed a bill ensuring transgender and non-binary people qualify as social equity applicants under its cannabis law.

Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D-NY) proposed the legislation to fix an ‘unintended consequence’ of the adult-use cannabis law, which would ‘force specific individuals to decide between their gender identity and receive precedence for a cannabis license’ the legislation’s argument section discusses.

The cannabis law grants licensing preference to women-owned enterprises and other marginalized groups and communities impacted by outdated cannabis prohibition. The language around social equity for women in the cannabis industry creates unpremeditated issues for the transgender and gender-nonbinary population.

For instance, a person born biologically female undergoing a transition, or identifies as non-binary, may need to choose between completing an application based on the gender assigned at birth. If not, the applicant may miss out on equity benefits in the cannabis industry.

‘This law encompasses transgender and gender-nonbinary people in the social and economic equity plan granting them priority in cannabis licensing,’ the bill states. ‘Every New Yorker merits the right to express and identify their gender as they see fit.’

‘The social equity portion of the [Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act] is to uplift marginalized groups with economic opportunities in the cannabis space, and this bill advances that effort,’ it proceeds.

At this time, adults 21 and older may possess up to three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of cannabis concentrates. Additionally, they can consume cannabis in public anywhere tobacco can be consumed. Despite this, there aren’t any cannabis shops open for business at this time.

Under the legislation signed by then-Gov. Earlier this year, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), 50 percent of cannabis operator licenses will be budgeted for equity applicants.

The initial law licensed recreational cannabis businesses in New York permits setting up shop on Native American territory, with one tribe formally opening applications for prospective licensees last month.

Earlier this summer, a New York senator filed a proposal to create temporary cannabis licensing category allowing farmers to begin cultivating and marketing cannabis ahead of the formal rollout phase of the adult-use cannabis program. The bill was sent to the Senate Rules Committee.

Due to the implementation process being drawn out, one GOP senator wants to give local authorities another year to choose whether they will opt-in or out of allowing cannabis businesses to engage in their area. A draft that cannabis advocates say is redundant and would create unwarranted complications for the cannabis industry.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), who replaced Gov. Cuomo after he resigned following a sexual harassment defamation, has repeatedly emphasized her interest in efficiently implementing the legalization law.

At a recent function, the Governor of New York touted that she had swiftly made regulatory appointments dallied under her antecedent. ‘I believe there are [tens of thousands] of jobs’ that could be developed in the new cannabis industry, the governor stated.

New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held its initial meeting in October, a significant step toward fulfilling New York’s adult-use cannabis program.

Members of the Cannabis Control board, appointed by Gov. Hochul and legislative officers, stated that medicinal cannabis dispensaries would sell traditional flower cannabis products to conditional patients. The $50 filing fee for patients and caregivers was also waived indefinitely.

This month, lawmakers also supported rules for New York’s hemp program, distinctly clarifying that flowers from the cannabis crop can be exchanged, but delta-8 THC products are prohibited from being marketed at this time.

Adding urgency to get the cannabis market up and running is that lawmakers in adjacent New Jersey recently released guidelines for its adult-use cannabis program, which is being executed after NJ voters passed a legalization referendum in 2020.

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