A recent report from Associated Press (AP) News examined the state of cannabis cultivation in New York, spotlighting issues with current conditions.
In an interview, AP News spoke with cultivator Seth Jacobs of Slack Hollow Organics (and his brand, Bud & Boro) who confirmed that due to the limited number of legal dispensaries, he’s stuck with a significant amount of cannabis. “We are really under the gun here. We’re all losing money,” said Jacobs. “Even the most entrepreneurial and ambitious amongst us just can’t move much product in this environment.” He explained that he has 100 “bins” of cannabis flower in storage, or about 700 pounds that was harvested in 2022, and 220 pounds of distillate being stored as well.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had projected that the state would license up to 20 new dispensaries every month since the beginning of 2023. Currently, New York only has 11 operating dispensaries throughout the entire state, although there are 300 licenses available to be awarded to qualifying applicants.
The result led to a surge in unlicensed cannabis shops and trucks, but for obvious reasons that isn’t an option for cultivators like Jacobs. AP News states that the value in legal cannabis product is estimated to be “hundreds of millions of dollars,” and 80% of it is cannabis oil. Eventually, the flower will become too old to sell, even though cultivators like Jacobs are storing the product in temperature-controlled storage containers.
Brittany Carbone of Tricolla Farms also told AP News that she’s storing 1,500 pre-rolls and 2,000 packs of edibles for the same reason. “What we really need to see is more retailers get open, and that’s going to actually give us the sustainable solution,” Carbone said.
Due to the abundant product supply in storage, Jacobs added that he doesn’t plan to produce any additional distillates this year. Carbone also said that Tricolla Farms would reduce its number of plants until more dispensaries are open.
AP News also cites issues with prioritizing social equity applicants as another potential delay. The program included $200 million earmarked to assist such businesses, with $150 million coming from “private investment.” The news outlet could not confirm that any private investments have been made, but in contacting state Dormitory Authority spokesperson Jeffrey Gordon, he explained that the state’s “complex and unprecedented” task of evaluating potential dispensary locations, setting up safe banking, and more has been a challenge.
The New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) recently approved 50 dispensary licenses, and there are plans to allow cultivators to partner with retailers in a farmer’s market style of sales to help sell product. During an announcement in late May, OCM Chief Equity Officer Damian Fagon projected that this could happen “optimistically, within a month.” The plan would be to have a minimum of three growers and one licensed retailer host a farmer’s market event.
John Kagia, OCM Director of Policy, explained the benefits of these events. “We think this is really important because it does two things,” said Kagia. “One, it allows the growers to get in front of the consumers who are going to be buying legal regulated product in New York, and allows you to tell your stories. Two, it allows you to sell product much more quickly across the state, so the idea would be that the retailers are going to be confined to the regions where they’re authorized to operate, but the growers would be able to do this anywhere in the state.”
OCM spokesperson Aaron Ghitelman also told AP News that the farmer’s markets would help alleviate the problem. “We know these cultivators are worried about how to sell last year’s harvest as they decide whether to plant a cannabis crop in 2023, and we will continue to support them as more adult-use dispensaries open to sell their products,” said Ghitelman.