Yesterday, Gov. Hochul announced a review of the state’s beleaguered Office of Cannabis Management and its beleaguered licensing program, which has left hundreds of intending small business owners in the lurch. It’s a step in the right direction to fix a system that has been broken from the start.

This “disaster” (that’s Hochul’s word) of just a tiny handful of legit retailers being approved by the state and opened amid an ocean of thousands of illegal pot shops should have cost someone their job. Plenty of other states have managed to do this. But not New York.

It was fine for the law to prioritize certain groups — including people who were affected by marijuana’s criminalization — as opposed to throwing the door open for out-of-state conglomerates. But then the agency broke that law by only giving the head start to some, and not all listed in the statute.

These would-be small businesses didn’t end up at the front of the line, as intended, but rather got shoved back behind the thousands of illegal sellers who didn’t bother following the rules at all, and who quickly found that there were few consequences for not doing so.

These local entrepreneurs, who were promised state assistance to be at the forefront of the burgeoning industry, instead watched as competitors seized the market. They not only opened first but ignore all the regs — being near schools and houses of worship, marketing with bright colors and to young people specifically, selling their wares alongside candy or other products.

The governor is right to try to fix this slowness, which created the space for the unlicensed businesses. If we’ve figured out how to relatively straightforwardly allow bodegas to sell beer, there’s no practical reason it should be a long and involved process to allow dispensaries to offer marijuana, a product that is by many metrics less harmful to the user’s health.

Whatever shape this 30-day review takes, it should identify ways to make these licenses much easier to get, and get the state help flowing to the business owners that qualify. If this means easing up on some of the specific restrictions, that’s something the Legislature should consider.

The other side of the coin are the thousands of illegal pot shops that have already proliferated. We expect, as others do, that they exceed concrete demand and some portion of them will collapse under market forces anyway, but this isn’t much of a proactive strategy for local and state leaders hoping to ensure compliance with the law.

Perhaps instead of an all-or-nothing approach — either they keep operating unperturbed or with a slap on the wrist, or we shut them down completely — some of the existing unlicensed shops can be brought into the legal fold.

If the state can assess how much an illegal seller might roughly owe in back taxes since the authorities became aware that they were peddling unregulated weed, maybe there could be a choice: pay the back taxes and an additional penalty, take down inappropriate marketing, especially anything that targets young customers and begin selling regulated and inspected weed, or be shut down.

Since our calls to padlock these places seem to be going nowhere, maybe a carrot-and-stick approach could move the needle.

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