Meet New York’s Cannabis Director of Policy

As part of New York Cannabis Control Board’s (CCB) meeting on August 15, 2022, the CCB proposed and approved John Kagia as the Office of Cannabis Management’s Director of Policy. Given the expansive and stratified plans for New York’s adult-use cannabis industry (with the general ban on vertical integration, emphasis on social equity and advanced conditional licenses), the Director of Policy will have a quite a few responsibilities.

From the OCM’s position posting, the Director of Policy’s duties will include (but will not be limited to!):

  • Overseeing data analysis and evaluation of programs, policies and initiatives of the OCM;
  • Managing the strategic planning, implementation and evaluation of the OCM’s policy initiatives and serving as a senior advisor to Executive Staff;
  • Directing the evaluation of the impact of cannabis legalization using key indicators across a variety of sub-populations and metrics;
  • Researching, interpreting and analyzing pending legislation, laws, policies and administrative guidelines or case law focusing on the effects of legislative enactments, issues, other rules and regulations affecting the administration, programs operations or service delivery; and
  • Using scientifically and epidemiologically valid methods and standards for policy development.

A few interesting things to note based on the identified duties. First, the OCM clearly was looking for someone with a background in data analytics. Second, there appears to be an ongoing political component in that the Director of Policy appears to be tasked with providing analytic support for the OCM and CCB’s policies.

And it looks like the OCM and CCB found a near perfect fit. Prior to be approved and hired by the OCM, Mr. Kagia was the Chief Knowledge Officer for New Frontier Data. From his bio:

John Kagia is a pioneering thought leader in the cannabis industry. He has developed market leading forecasts for the growth of the industry, uncovered groundbreaking insights into the cannabis consumer, and led the first-of-its-kind analysis of global cannabis demand.

Kagia works with investors, business owners and operators, and industry innovators to understand the fast-evolving industry, capitalize on emerging opportunities, hedge against risks, and predict market-defining trends. Leveraging his years of experience managing research studies for industry-leading clients including Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, IBM, Microsoft, and the U.S. Department of State, Kagia brings a keen understanding of how market insights enable organizations to plan, grow, compete, and measure performance more effectively.

From the OCM’s perspective, the emphasis on data analytics was plainly met in Mr. Kagia. Given everything that is happening in New York’s adult-use cannabis industry, Mr. Kagia will have no choice but to hit the ground running, but it certainly seems like a good match and a step in the right direction.