ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday the opening of a web-based application portal for hemp farmers who are seeking conditional licenses to grow marijuana for the 2022 growing season—a move that state officials say will “jumpstart” New York’s cannabis industry.
This new portal is the result of a conditional cannabis cultivation bill Gov. Hochul signed last month that allows some New York hemp farmers to grow cannabis beginning this spring. With the portal now open for applications, and the farm-to-store initiative in place, officials from the governor’s office say legal adult-use cannabis sales in New York state is a possibility by the end of the year.
“New York is moving full speed ahead to create the most inclusive adult-use cannabis industry in the nation through our Seeding Opportunity Initiative,” Hochul said in a Tuesday press release. “This initiative will create meaningful opportunities for economic empowerment for New York farmers and impacted communities. Now that our application portal is open, I encourage every eligible New York farmer to participate in the farm-to-sale pipeline that will create jobs and opportunity throughout the Empire State.”
The application portal is now live online, but to qualify, farmers must meet certain requirements. According to officials from the governor’s office:
“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 enter into a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization. The portal opened today by the New York State Office of Cannabis Management allows hemp farmers seeking an Adult-use Cannabis Conditional Cultivator License to apply with ease.”
Cannabis became legal in New York last year under the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, but no adult-use recreational licenses have been issued yet. Currently, the only way to acquire marijuana legally in New York is through a medicinal program, which recently expanded eligibility and has set up a new cannabis certification and registration system. The program will now allow a patient to get certified for medical marijuana by a practitioner for any condition they see fit.
Not only will more patients be allowed to be prescribed marijuana, but more practitioners including dentists, podiatrists, and midwives will be able to prescribe it. The OCM also recently sent letters ordering businesses suspected of illegally selling cannabis, including the practice of “gifting” to stop or risk the opportunity to get a license in the legal market.
Some business operators have reportedly been selling a product or service providing cannabis as a “gift” in return. Officials say this is illegal and the OCM has identified more than two dozen alleged violators. In addition to risk losing a potential license in the future legal market, officials from the OCM say businesses participating in the selling or gifting of marijuana illegally may also face substantial fines and possible criminal penalties.
Last week, state officials announced the first licenses to sell recreational marijuana in New York will go to people who were casualties of the war on drugs. People with marijuana-related convictions get dibs on the first 100 to 200 retail cannabis licenses awarded by the state in an effort to redress the inequities of a justice system that locked up a disproportionate number of people of color for drug crimes.
It’s unclear how many retail licenses will be issued in New York, the second-most populous state after California to legalize possession and use of marijuana for adults over age 21. Some licenses will go to nonprofits or businesses that have a leader linked to a marijuana conviction. Priority also will be given to people with a parent, legal guardian, child, or spouse convicted of a marijuana-related offense. Convictions must have occurred before March 31, 2021, when the state’s legalization bill was signed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.