Gov. Hochul signs bill to fast-track adult-use cannabis program
NY creates conditional adult-use cannabis cultivator license for hemp farmers to grow cannabis
Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office
Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation creating a new Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator license, establishing a pathway for existing New York hemp farmers to apply for a conditional license to grow cannabis in the 2022 growing season for the forthcoming adult-use cannabis market.
Under the law, conditionally licensed cannabis farmers must meet certain requirements, including safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly cultivation practices, participation in a social equity mentorship program, and engagement in a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.
“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.”
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.
The Office of Cannabis Management will be developing a license application process and opening the program as soon as possible. To qualify for an Adult-use Cannabis Conditional 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.
The Governor’s action today builds on the quick work she and the OCM have undertaken to bring the new cannabis industry to life in New York. In January , the Governor’s Executive Budget proposed a $200 million program that will use industry licensing fees and revenue to provide support to eligible applicants from communities impacted by the overcriminalization of cannabis during its prohibition. The Governor and the Legislature also moved quickly to appoint the Cannabis Control Board and OCM leadership within weeks of the start of her administration. Since the Board held its first meeting on Oct. 5, the OCM has:
• Launched the Cannabinoid Hemp Program, putting in place protections for the public and provisions to help New York’s CBD businesses compete;
• Vastly expanded access to the Medical Cannabis Program, including empowering health care providers to determine if medical cannabis can help their patients, lowering costs by permanently waiving patient fees and allowing the sale of whole flower, and growing the list of providers who can certify patients; and
• Launched its first wave of community outreach events with 11 regional events, including one in Spanish, that’s already engaged more than 5,000 attendees; and
• Developed a pipeline of talented professionals to join the Office’s growing team and built the infrastructure to support the office.
Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, “I can’t thank Governor Hochul and the Legislature enough for providing us with the tools to make up for lost time while also keeping equity and inclusion at the center of the new cannabis industry we’re building in New York. With this bill, we’re putting New York farmers, not big corporations, at the forefront of our industry while protecting public health by delivering safely grown products. We are immediately getting to work implementing the bill so that our farmers can start planting this spring.”