New York Governor Appoints New Office of Cannabis Management Leadership

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Three new positions were created to streamline and improve licensing processes, social equity, and more.

In a news release (1) dated June 10, 2024, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the appointment of new leadership in the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The news release, titled “Appointees to Lead Operational Overhaul at OCM and Implement Recommendations from Task Force Report,” detailed the three appointees and their roles, and also announced the search for a permanent Executive Director, noting that candidates will be sought from both within and outside the state (1).

“I’m committed to ensuring New York’s nation-leading cannabis market continues to thrive,” Governor Hochul stated in the release (1). “With these new appointees, the Office of Cannabis Management will continue to focus on expanding the most equitable adult-use market in the nation while cracking down on illicit storefronts.” Cannabis was legalized for recreational purposes in the state in 2021 (2).

According to the release, the OCM began a significant overhaul in May 2024 due to the ongoing challenges it was encountering (1). The new leadership team will address the licensing process complications and uphold the social equity commitment in New York’s Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (1).


The three new appointees are:

  • Felicia A. B. Reid as the Executive Deputy Director and Acting Executive Director
  • Susan Filburn as the Chief Administrative Officer
  • Jessica Woolford as the Director of External Affairs

Reid will be responsible for licensing, compliance, and enforcement, plus applying recommendations from the OCM Assessment Team (1). "I am excited to work with everyone at OCM and our partners statewide to expand upon the agency’s work, build best internal and external practices, and focus on making New York’s cannabis industry one that meets the needs of small businesses and consumers,” stated Reid in the news release (1). “Cannabis is an enormous opportunity for our state, and OCM is obligated to ensure that its work makes those opportunities accessible, transparent, and responsive to the industry’s movement and trends. I want to thank Governor Hochul for this opportunity and look forward to doing the work with equity as the central-most focus of OCM’s way forward.”

As Chief Administrative Officer, Filburn will support various operations including compliance and enforcement, plus improvements to the licensing process (1). Woolford, who had been the OCM’s Director of Communications for the past nine months, will focus on community engagement and create a customer service team to serve applicants, licensees, and consumers in providing transparent information about the marketplace and processes (1).

In February 2024, Governor Hochul expressed her frustration with the Cannabis Control Board’s handling of the licensing process, referring to it as a “disaster” (2). The delays and roadblocks being experienced had caused some confusion, and the OCM had been battling various lawsuits in the beginning of the year (2).

Earlier this month, the state implemented an excise tax on cannabis, removing the previous potency tax, which is now implemented in only two other states: Illinois and Connecticut (3). Some have argued that this new tax may prove to be too much of a burden for smaller businesses, though the potency tax had placed illegal cannabis operators at an advantage over legal businesses (3).


  1. Appointees to Lead Operational Overhaul at OCM and Implement Recommendations from Task Force Report, Governor Kathy Hochul, June 10, 2024.
  2. Colli, M. New York Governor Grows Frustrated with Cannabis Control Board (accessed June 11, 2024).
  3. Wright, R., Menkes, S. NY Cannabis Excise Tax Good for Many, But Small Firms Lose Out, (June 11, 2024).