[UPDATE: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed this legislation into law on February 22.] Legislation that seeks to secure a smooth and timely transition to the adult-use marijuana market has been approved by members of the New York State Assembly and Senate.
The legislation, A9283/S8084-A, authorizes already licensed hemp growers to obtain temporary conditional licenses to commercially cultivate and process cannabis for the state’s forthcoming adult-use market.
Under the legislation, eligible applicants must possess a valid industrial hemp grower authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Markets as of December 31, 2021, be in good standing, and have grown and harvested hemp for at least two of the last four years. It requires that both cultivator and processor licensees participate in a social equity mentorship program as well as an environmental sustainability program. The licenses expire on June 30, 2024.
Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly, said that its passage is necessary in order to “help secure enough safe, regulated, and environmentally conscious cannabis products to meet the demand of the adult-use cannabis market when retail dispensaries open.”
However, it remains unclear when that time will be. Nearly one-year following the passage of the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), regulators with the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) have yet to promulgate rules governing the adult-use market. Once draft rules are promulgated, they will be subject to a five-month public comment period. Earlier this month, the Executive Director of the OCM speculated that the agency will begin accepting commercial licensing applications, including retail licenses “by the end of 2022” — far later than initially projected.
“After that, we will have clarity on when we can expect sales,” he said. “There will be some time needed to allow for the build-out of dispensaries.”
The temporary licensure legislation now awaits action from Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
To learn about other pending legislation in New York, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center.’