New York’s legalized-pot program is on a train to nowhere — apparently derailed because Gov. Andrew Cuomo is fuming over his stalled plans to overhaul leadership at the MTA.
Cuomo and the state Legislature approved the legalized sale of weed in New York in March, but the governor has since become a real buzzkill on the issue, critics say.
He has yet to nominate an executive director for his new Office of Cannabis Management or name appointees to the Cannabis Control Board, even though the Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act was passed months ago, they say.
His rep, asked by The Post on Sunday about the lack of movement, put the onus on the state Senate — while noting the pols’ failure to pass Cuomo’s proposed MTA legislation.
“We agree there’s a lot of unfinished business with the Senate, and we’re ready to submit our nominations, and we hope they reconvene and act on these and our MTA legislation and nominations,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said.
Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins (D-Yonkers), fired back, “I don’t know what connection the administration is making between two separate issues, but it’s disturbing.”
The MTA is currently headed by a chairman/CEO, but the Democratic governor wants to split the leadership into two separate positions, a chairman and chief executive.
The Democratic-controlled Senate blocked Cuomo’s 11th-hour proposal calling for the split before adjourning last month.
State Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat, said both sides could be in for a long wait.
“We’re between a rock and a hard place. It’s kind of a stalemate,” she said.
“We are pissed and frustrated” over Cuomo’s inaction over pot, Savino added. “For the life of me, I can’t understand it.
“They should be able to walk and smoke a joint at the same time.”
Nothing can happen in terms of pot sales in the state — including the issuing of licenses to launch a seed-to-sale marijuana market — without regulators in place to lay the ground rules and make the decisions.
Cuomo needs to nominate three people to begin creating the five-member Cannabis Control Board, and the senate would then have to approve them. The other two members will be selected by the legislature — one each by the Assembly and Senate.
It will now likely take a year or more for cannabis products to be sold over the counter in New York, say lawmakers and pot-industry advocates.
Cuomo has been a reluctant warrior in the campaign to legalize weed. He once called marijuana a “gateway” drug but approved the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes — and later for recreational use — after seeing surrounding states move in that direction.
Many New Yorkers currently cross the border to buy pot at retail stores in Massachusetts.
Both neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut have recently approved marijuana for adult use, but neither state sells it yet.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission is up and running, already holding several meetings. Still, the licensing of weed farmers and sellers has not yet taken place, and sales are not expected until next year.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont approved a law only last month to allow marijuana sales. Yet he has already named his point person to oversee the program, as well as appointees to a council reviewing related social equities.
Jeremy Unrush, CEO of Pharma-Cann, which has a New York license to grow and sell marijuana for medicinal use, lamented, “Cannabis is legal [in the Empire State], but there is no place to buy it.
“The illicit market continues to do its thing,’’ he told The Post. “I was expecting New York to move faster.’’
New York will charge a 13 percent excise tax on marijuana sales, with 9 percent going to the state and 4 percent to local governments.
A wholesale tax will be charged based on potency — a cent per milligram on edibles, eight-tenths of one cent on concentrated cannabis and a half-cent per milligram on flowers or buds.
New York officials estimate that marijuana sales could generate $350 million a year in tax revenue for government coffers.