Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation on February 22 that creates a new Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator license. It establishes a pathway for existing New York hemp farmers to apply for a conditional license to grow cannabis in the 2022 growing season.
With a conditional adult-use cannabis cultivation license, farmers can grow outdoors or in a greenhouse for up to two years from the issuance of the license. It also allows them to manufacture and distribute cannabis flower products without holding an adult-use processor or distributor license, until June 1, 2023.Cultivators are limited to one acre (43,560 square feet) of flowering canopy outdoors or 25,000 square feet in a greenhouse and can use up to 20 artificial lights. They can also split between outdoor and greenhouse grows with a maximum total canopy of 30,000 square feet as long as greenhouse flowering canopy remains under 20,000 square feet.
Conditionally licensed cannabis farmers must meet certain requirements, including safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly cultivation practices, participation in a social equity mentorship program, and engagement in a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.
“I am proud to sign this bill, which positions New York’s farmers to be the first to grow cannabis and jumpstart the safe, equitable and inclusive new industry we are building,” Governor Hochul said. “New York State will continue to lead the way in delivering on our commitment to bring economic opportunity and growth to every New Yorker in every corner of our great state.”
The new legislation aligns the rollout of the adult-use program with the natural growing season so that products made with sun-grown cannabis can be available when dispensaries open their doors.
“With this bill, we’re putting New York farmers, not big corporations, at the forefront of our industry while protecting public health by delivering safely grown products,” said Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). “We are immediately getting to work implementing the bill so that our farmers can start planting this spring.”
Holders of the license must participate in a social equity mentorship program where they provide training in cannabis cultivation and processing for social and economic equity partners; preparing them for potential roles in the industry.
Calling current hemp farmers “early risk takers,” Assemblymember Donna Lupardo noted that “they certainly have the knowledge and expertise needed to jumpstart the adult-use cannabis market. They are also in the best position to mentor a new, diverse group of farmers and entrepreneurs wanting to enter this industry.”
The OCM will be developing a license application process and opening the program as soon as possible. To qualify for an Adult-use Cannabis Conditional Cultivator License, an applicant must have been an authorized industrial hemp research partner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets, cultivating hemp for its non-intoxicating cannabinoid content for at least two of the past four years, and in good standing as of December 31, 2021, when the research program ended.
The MRTA was passed in March of 2021. In January 2022, the Governor’s Executive Budget proposed a $200 million program that will use industry licensing fees and revenue to provide support to eligible applicants from communities impacted by the over criminalization of cannabis during its prohibition. The Governor and the Legislature also moved quickly to appoint the Cannabis Control Board and OCM leadership within weeks of the start of her administration.
Since the Board held its first meeting on October 5, the OCM has:
- launched the Cannabinoid Hemp Program, putting in place protections for the public and provisions to help New York’s CBD businesses compete;
- vastly expanded access to the Medical Cannabis Program, including empowering health care providers to determine if medical cannabis can help their patients, lowering costs by permanently waiving patient fees and allowing the sale of whole flower, and growing the list of providers who can certify patients; and
- launched its first wave of community outreach events with 11 regional events, including one in Spanish, that’s already engaged more than 5,000 attendees; and
- Developed a pipeline of talented professionals to join the office’s growing team and built the infrastructure to support the office.