New York Eases Hemp Farming Laws

This week New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed S8084A into law. The law is meant to speed up the rate of cultivation, processing, and distribution of cannabis in New York. This new law will allow hemp farmers and processors in the state to become licensed to grow and manufacture cannabis in time for the 2022 growing season.

“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.”

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. The law also 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.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “Last year, after many years of fighting, we finally enacted the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, and are beginning to undo the devastating impacts over ninety years of unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition had on too many lives and communities. MRTA ensures that the legal adult-use market will be centered on equity and economic justice for communities of color and individuals that have been harmed most by the War on Drugs in the State of New York. With the passage of this bill, we have the opportunity to create a responsible start to the adult-use cannabis industry by authorizing temporary conditional cultivator and processor licenses to current New York hemp farmers. This authority will help secure enough safe, regulated, and environmentally conscious cannabis products to meet the demand of the adult-use cannabis market when retail dispensaries open. Importantly, this legislation calls for a Social Equity Mentorship Program, which will create a viable and inclusive path for social and economic equity partners interested in cannabis cultivation and processing to gain invaluable knowledge and experience in this emerging industry. The temporary conditional licenses authorized by this bill will ultimately help realize the vision and goals of the MRTA.”

License Types

Hemp farmers and licensed hemp processors have the opportunity to apply for and obtain the following license types:
  • Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator License
  • Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Processor License
According to a statement from the Governor’s office, “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.

Application Process TimingThe OCM will be developing a license application process and opening the program as soon as possible. To qualify for an Adult-use CannabisConditional 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.

Holders of the license must also 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. Growers will also have to meet sustainability requirements to ensure the cannabis is grown in an environmentally conscientious way.

Joe Caltabiano  CEO of Choice Consolidation Corp and co-founder of Cresco Labs said, “The New York State Senate has made clear its strong desire to ensure that affordable cannabis is available to its constituents. These legislators recognize that the product must be fairly priced in order for the legal market to flourish. This is a bold move by one of the most important markets in the US to snuff out the illicit market and proves the state does not want to end up as another California.”

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


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