New York Senator Introduces Cannabis Cultivation Bill

Adult-use cultivator provisional licenses would allow farmers to start planting in New York.
New York

Senator Jeremy Cooney of New York introduced a bill on July 20 that would build upon the state’s recreational cannabis law with a focus on getting cultivation up and running.

Cooney’s bill, Senate Bill S7295, would create an adult-use provisional cultivation license that would allow cultivators to begin planting very soon while the state’s recreational cannabis program materializes. “This bill enables New York cannabis farmers to put seeds in the ground, so that the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana are not delayed for another growing season,” Cooney said in a press release.

He continued, “We passed adult-use recreational marijuana with the promise of investing in communities most negatively impacted by the failed War on Drugs. This bill allows us to start fulfilling that promise by creating a supply chain of products for retailers in this new economy.”

SB-S7295 calls upon the state’s Office of Cannabis Management to create a provisional license, unless cultivator’s licenses have already been created by January 1, 2022. A provisional license would offer a cultivator the same benefits as a cultivator’s license for the time being. If neither a provisional license or cultivator’s license is made available to growers by January 1, 2022, SB-S7295 gives the Department of Agriculture and Markets the power to establish a license until the Office of Cannabis Management can complete its licensing requirements.

The bill justifies the desire to get local cultivators growing as soon as possible, in order to allow the state to get things rolling. “The adult-use cannabis industry is projected to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the state of New York. In order to prepare for future cannabis sales, cultivators and farmers across the state will need to take advanced steps to obtain and begin growing the necessary crops.

Seeds need to be planted by June 2022, and sources of these seeds need to located even earlier than that. Because of this, growers may need authorization before the adult-use cultivator’s licenses may be in place,” the bill text reads. 

New York’s Road Here

New York legalized recreational cannabis on March 31 with a final signature from Governor Andrew Cuomo. “This is a historic day in New York—one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” Cuomo said in a press release.

Signing the bill into law legalized cannabis consumption for adults 21 and over, and removed penalties for possession of less than three ounces on one’s person (and a larger amount allowed for storage at home). Record expungement efforts began immediately and the state has up to two years to ensure that all convictions are removed. Residents can grow six plants at home and 12 per household, but not until six months have passed since the bill was signed (which lands in August).

Like most burgeoning recreational cannabis programs in their infancy, cannabis sales was not ready to launch right out of the gate. Estimates predict that it could be up and running anywhere between 18 months and two years from the date of Cuomo’s bill signing, which could mean a launch date as late as March 2023. In the meantime, the creation of the Office of Cannabis Management will ensure that all of the most important topics of discussion, such as cultivation, processing, dispensaries and licenses will be dealt with.

With the official signing of New York’s recreational cannabis program, the state has already begun to embrace the plant in numerous ways. Local colleges are planning for cannabis-related programs, such as a graduate certification in “Cannabis Control” at Excelsior College, and multiple cannabis and hemp courses at State University of New York. Business owners, such as Bob Marley’s son Rohan Marley, are eyeing the state as the next big worthwhile investment. With the hope of seeing SB-S7295 passed, it would allow growers to do what they do best—effectively helping the state to quickly become one of the biggest markets on the east coast.

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