Albany, New York (WROC) — Governor Cathy Hochhol signed into law a conditional cannabis cultivation bill on Tuesday that will allow some New York cannabis growers to grow cannabis beginning this spring.
According to the governor’s office, conditional licenses will speed up the state’s program for adult cannabis use while also helping New York growers.
State officials say driving these farming licenses will help ensure products are available for launch for the prospective adult use program. According to the governor, provisions have been included in the bill to ensure fairness, inclusiveness and environmental sustainability.
“I am proud to sign this law, which positions New York’s growers to be the first to grow cannabis and catalyze the new safe, fair and inclusive industry we are building,” Governor Hochhol said. “The State of New York will continue to lead in fulfilling our commitment to bring economic opportunity and growth to all New Yorkers in every corner of our great state.”
According to the Governor’s Office, with a conditional adult cannabis cultivation license, growers can grow outdoors or in a greenhouse for up to two years from the issuance of the license. They are also permitted to manufacture and distribute cannabis flower products without obtaining an adult processor or distributor license, until June 1, 2023.
State officials say growers are limited to one acre (43,560 square feet) of outdoor flowering canopy or 25,000 square feet in a greenhouse and can use up to 20 artificial lights. It can also split an outdoor grow greenhouse with a maximum total canopy of 30,000 square feet as long as the flowering greenhouse canopy stays less than 20,000 square feet.
State officials said the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will work to develop the license application process and open the program as soon as possible.
According to the OCM, to qualify for a conditional adult cannabis cultivation license, an applicant must have been an approved industrial hemp research partner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets for at least two years out of the past four years and in good standing as of December 31, 2021—when the research program ended.
According to a press release from Gov. Hochul, license holders must also participate in a social equity mentorship program where they provide training in cannabis cultivation and processing to social and economic justice partners, preparing them for potential roles in the industry. Farmers will also have to meet sustainability requirements to ensure that hemp is grown in an environmentally conscientious manner.
Cannabis became legal in New York last year under a law Marijuana Regulation and Taxes Act (MRTA), but no recreational licenses for adult use have been issued yet.
Currently, the only way to legally obtain marijuana in New York is through a medical program The scope of eligibility has recently been expanded and has created a new system for cannabis certification and registration. The program will now allow a patient to obtain medical marijuana certification by a practitioner for any condition they deem appropriate.
Not only will more patients be allowed to prescribe marijuana, but more practitioners including dentists, podiatrists and midwives will be able to prescribe it.
OCM also recently I sent letters asking companies suspected of illegally selling cannabisincluding the practice of “gifting” to stop or risk the opportunity to obtain a license in the legal market.
Some business operators were reportedly selling a product or service that offered cannabis as a “gift” in return. Officials say this is illegal and the OCM has identified more than two dozen alleged violators.
In addition to risking losing a potential license in the future legal market, OCM officials say companies involved in the illegal sale, gifting or marijuana could also face heavy fines and potential criminal penalties.