MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State is growing closer to launching its recreational cannabis industry, with the Cannabis Control Board continuing to approve cultivator licenses. The first farmer in Montgomery County to get the green light is Pete Bunker of Bunker’s Hemp LLC.

Bunker, who runs a dairy farm with his son, is once again expanding his repertoire with this new venture.

“The precursor to it was to grow the hemp for at least two out of four years,” Bunker said of the requirements to apply for the recreational cannabis license.

He plans to have new seeds planted within the next few days.

“The plants are planted into flats, then five to six week-old plants are transplanted into the field,” Bunker explained. “I had a very steep learning curve with the hemp, and I’m expecting to learn a lot more when we get into it.”

Bunker said the license comes with several requirements, including safety and security regulations. While he was growing hemp, he caught people sneaking into his fields almost ten times, and some of his product was stolen. He thinks the thieves were trying to pass off the hemp as marijuana, or mixing it in to stretch their stash.

“We will have more security, including personnel, and whatever else goes with that,” Bunker said, “cameras and so forth.”

While he’s anticipating challenges in this new undertaking, there’s a limit to what he can grow at a time.

“Growing one acre is a lot different than growing 18 acres, so we hope we can be a little more on top of everything that needs to be done,” Bunker said.

Those approved can grow outdoors or in a greenhouse for up to two years after getting the license. They can also manufacture and distribute cannabis flower products without holding an adult-use processor or distributor license until June 2023.

The deadline to submit applications is June 30, 2022, and licenses are being granted on a rolling basis.