New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s call to use the rooftops of public housing as cannabis greenhouse spaces looks like a pipe dream for now.
The website Gothamist reported on Monday that a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provides funding for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), “said Adams’ office hasn’t yet reached out to the federal agency about the mayor’s idea for public-housing rooftops.”
“There isn’t much more to say, marijuana is illegal in public housing,” the spokesperson told Gothamist.
Speaking during a conference panel last week, Adams, who took office as New York City mayor in January, said his administration wants to “examine the possibilities of having a greenhouse space on NYCHA rooftops to grow cannabis.”
As reported by Gothamist, Adams was discussing “the challenges of cultivating cannabis in a densely populated metropolis like New York City,” and that a “way to circumvent that issue, he said, is by embracing hydroponic greenhouses on buildings throughout the city—including those owned by NYCHA.”
“The jobs can come from NYCHA residents. The proceeds and education can go right into employing people right in the area,” Adams said at the conference, as quoted by Gothamist.
Adams’ comments came amid the state of New York’s ongoing preparations for the launch of its new adult-use cannabis market later this year.
Last week, the state’s Cannabis Control Board announced that it had approved the first round of cultivation licenses for the adult-use program, with the opening 52 going to New York farmers who were already growing hemp.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s office said that those farmers “must adhere to quality assurance, health, and safety requirements developed by the [Office of Cannabis Management],” and “must also take part in sustainability and equity mentorship programs that will help build the first generation of equity cannabis owners across the entire supply chain.”
“New York’s farms have been the backbone of our state’s economy since before the American Revolution, and now, New York’s farms will be at the center of the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation,” Hochul said in announcing the licenses. “I’m proud to announce the first adult-use cannabis cultivation licenses in the state, and I’m proud of the work the Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board are doing to get adult-use cannabis sales up and running as fast as possible without compromising our mission to uplift communities and individuals most impacted by the past century of cannabis prohibition.”
But while more than a dozen states like New York have taken steps to legalize recreational pot use for adults, cannabis remains illegal on the federal level.
That gap in laws has posed dilemmas to state-level cannabis businesses, as well as state governments trying to institute their own pot laws.
Charles Kretchmer Lutvak, a spokesperson for Mayor Adams, told Gothamist that federal cannabis “laws still on the books continue to harm the same communities that have been targeted for decades.” But Lutvak expressed optimism following the passage of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act in the House of Representatives earlier this month.
The bill would deschedule cannabis on the federal level, ending the prohibition on cannabis. Democrats in the U.S. Senate have said they intend to produce their own legalization bill prior to the Congressional recess in August. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had previously said that the chamber planned to release its cannabis bill this month.
“The House passed legislation to this effect earlier this month, and we need those who are obstructing progress at the federal level to follow New York’s lead,” Lutvak told Gothamist.