New York Loosens Strict Testing Requirements for Cannabis Cultivators

New York growers objected to the rules.
New York

Regulators in New York this week lifted a stringent requirement that cannabis growers in the state had decried as an “existential threat” to their operations. 

NY Cannabis Insider reports that the state’s Office of Cannabis Management on Tuesday sent an email to cultivators to note that it had “updated its Laboratory Testing Limits document to remove the pass/fail limits associated with the Total Viable Aerobic Bacteria Count and Total Yeast and Mold Count for unextracted cannabis products (e.g. cannabis flower, pre-roll, etc.).”

New York cannabis growers lamented that the testing limits for bacteria, yeast, and mold were far too onerous, and jeopardized their ability to get the product in front of customers. 

The state gave conditional licenses to cultivators earlier this year to begin growing the first adult-use cannabis crop outdoors. 

But growing outdoors made those testing limits difficult to attain. 

“This is a step in the right direction for the success of this new market,” said Aaron Leentjes, a conditional cultivator and co-founder and owner of UNIFI Cannabis, as quoted by NY Cannabis Insider. “Because growers were not given an option to cultivate indoors, it’s nice to see OCM adjusting their testing guidelines to be more in line with the realities of outdoor cultivation.”

In its email sent on Tuesday, the Office of Cannabis Management said that, although testing will still be conducted, “there will not be a defined limit for unextracted cannabis products in the adult-use program.”

“It is the responsibility of the licensee to consider these results and any impact to the stability and expiration dating of the product, as well as any risks to the health of consumers,” the OCM said in the email, as quoted by NY Cannabis Insider

Recipients of the first two-year “conditional cultivator” licenses were given the green light to grow up to an acre’s worth of weed outdoors, although they were also permitted to keep some plants in greenhouses. 

“There’s a market that we’re building for small players, for big players, for medium-sized players, for family businesses, for big corporations as well,” Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, said of the first round of cultivation this summer. “We do think it will be sufficient to provide that initial supply to our dispensary locations that we get up and running.” 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is facing re-election next week, said last month that the first state-regulated marijuana dispensaries are still on track to open by the end of this year.

“We expect the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year,” Hochul said at the time. “And then every month or so, another 20. So, we’re not going to just jam it out there. It’s going to work and be successful.”

In that same interview, Hochul took credit for getting the legal marijuana program up and running after she took over for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last August. 

“Talk about the rollout being jammed up,” she said. “When I became governor, nothing had happened. Nothing. It was shut down because there was a battle between the administration and the legislature over who would be the executive director and the chairs of the cannabis review boards,” she said. “So, I was given a lot of credit because within one week, I named people. I got things going. So, when I speak to people about being part of this industry, the first thing they say is ‘thank you.’ Because otherwise we could still be waiting and waiting and waiting, even for the most basic steps to be taken. So we’ve been moving along quickly.”

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