Photo by Will Waldron / Times Union

City Guides | 03.22.2022

Hemp Growers In New York Could Soon Be Allowed To Cultivate Cannabis

A new bill recently passed that would allow hemp growers to apply for temporary licenses that permit cannabis cultivation.

Calling all New York state hemp growers, you may be allowed to begin cultivating cannabis thanks to a new bill that passed this week in the state legislature. 

You might already be familiar with the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which was passed into law in March 2021 and legalized adult-use cannabis. And although dispensaries are popping up everywhere around the state, most of them are empty. 

This is solely because New York has yet to announce a list of regulations or a regulatory scheme for the state’s cannabis market. But this isn’t stopping New York from quickly ramping up efforts to implement a cannabis market; if anything, the state hopes these efforts might avoid supply issues. 

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If a state’s cannabis market isn’t regulated, the chances of cultivators giving their expensive flower to an unregulated market aren’t high. And for this reason, the New York Legislature just announced Senate Bill S8084A, a bill that would permit existing hemp growers to also cultivate cannabis under two different temporary licenses. 

According to the bill and reports from Lexology, the two licenses are as follows;

  • a temporary conditional cultivator license to process and distribute cannabis flower products without holding an adult-use processor or distributor license, and a temporary conditional adult-use processor license to process and distribute cannabis products.

However, as we mentioned earlier, the state’s lack of regulations could mean that existing hemp growers wanting to transition to cannabis might have to wait until 2023 to begin operations, meaning dispensaries will still be empty for a while. 

Photo by Jay Calderon / The Desert Sun

In more detail, the license would only allow hemp growers to cultivate cannabis if they have been growing or harvesting hemp for at least two years out of the last four, reports Lexology. The bill would also permit growers to cultivate the crops in a greenhouse or outdoors. 

While there is hope for a booming adult-use market in New York thanks to new bills like this, we’re still patiently waiting on state regulators to announce regulations and ensure hemp farmers moving to cannabis have the knowledge to cultivate the plant and operate a cannabis-related business. 

Finally, the new bill focuses on social equity by awarding half of all licenses to applicants that fall under the category. Additionally, social equity applicants will also work alongside mentors to get on their feet and ensure they have all the tools to thrive in the evolving industry. 

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