Hemp farmers in New York State can now grow marijuana for adult use. This is after governor Kathy Hochul signed a new law on Tuesday, the first unique law that allows the farmers to cultivate the plant.
According to the governor, licensing the farmers will help speed marijuana NY market growth when sales for recreational marijuana starts sometime next year. The signing of the bill will help promote equity in the marijuana NY market and ensure every stakeholder benefits from the fast-growing market in the USA.
The Hemp market has been growing in New York for the past four years
The process for legalization for the cultivation of Hemp in New York started in 2013. The legislature established the procedure for cultivating hemp for industrial use. In early 2014, the cultivation of hemp for industrial use pilot program was established.
Mass cultivation was legalized in 2016, which allowed the sale, distribution, transportation, and processing of industrial hemp. The existing law was modified to allow these clauses. Mass hemp cultivation started, and by 2020, New York farmers had cultivated over 2,547 acres of hemp.
The hemp research pilot program was replaced by the 2018 Federal Farm Bill that changed hemp cultivation regulation. The bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances. Farmers wishing to cultivate hemp must apply for a license and attach an FBI identity history summary check with the license application form.
All farmers that were licensed under the pilot research program are required to reapply under the new bill. Currently, the licensed hemp acreage in New York stands at more than 32 thousand acres.
Cultivation of recreational marijuana prioritized in New York
The bill signed into law gives priority to licensed hemp farmers to start growing marijuana for recreational use. The farmers can start supplying the NY marijuana market as early as this spring. This will help farmers to be ready to supply the market before the recreational sale launches next year.
Without legalizing marijuana cultivation, there was likely to be a shortage of recreational marijuana in the NY market when the launching time arrives. The move helps promote diversity and equity in the market.
Farmers who will be allowed to cultivate marijuana must meet the following conditions:
- They must possess a license issued by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets. The license must be valid as of December 31, 2021.
- The farmers must have cultivated and reaped hemp for at least two seasons since 2018
- They must own at least a 51 percent stake in a hemp-growing licensed firm.
- They must take part in a program for sustaining the environment and for promoting social equity.
The signing of the bill gives 748 licensed hemp growers priority to pioneer growing marijuana outside in NY to help rejuvenate the sector and promote a secure, equitable, and all-around industry.
The licenses give the farmers conditional marijuana NY cultivation and minimal processing and distribution of products limited to cannabis flower. Farmers who want to extract more products must apply for an additional license.
It was a win for hemp activists who said they are hoping everything will work out well in the long run. The current licenses will expire in 2024 and require a fee of $400.
Creating a responsible start
Although many other US states legalized medical and recreational use of cannabis, the New York state had lagged for a longer time. The signing of the bill sets the pace for accountability to the recreational use of marijuana NY.
Recently, hemp farmers in New York started a political action committee to lead the way towards electing candidates who will bring positive reforms to the cannabis industry. The sector’s stakeholders are looking forward to a time when there will be a safe and sufficient supply of both regulated and environmentally friendly cannabis products.
They want to ensure the market will provide enough supply once the cannabis dispensaries open doors to the public. The signing of this bill is a bold step towards realizing the vision of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MTRA).
According to the act, adults from 21 years old and above are allowed by law to carry and use cannabis in public. The law also allows them to give cannabis products as gifts to other adults of 21 years old and above on condition they don’t ask for compensation.
More legalizations required
At the moment, retailers are not allowed to sell cannabis products. This is one of the areas the legislators are fast pacing to finalize licensing guidelines. The guidelines will focus more on equity objectives.
There are currently more than 1000 drug policy bills across the US state legislatures and congress. When passed, the bills will legalize and give guidelines for the sale of cannabis and psychedelic drugs.
The largest adult-use cannabis market in the US
Currently, New York has ten licensed firms that grow medical cannabis. The firm’s supply medical cannabis to about 125 thousand patients with cannabis use prescriptions. According to stakeholders, cannabis legalization will help propel the state to one of the largest marijuana markets in the USA.
Since 2019, hemp farmers have been recording losses due to the uncertainty of regulations and oversupply. The new law allowing NY marijuana growing and supply gives the farmers an added opportunity to tap into the market.
Even with the legalization, the marijuana NY stakeholders have concerns because the laws give a thin line between cannabis and hemp. They hope there will be clear boundaries between the two plants in the future.
The number of licensed growers is increasing fast, and soon there might be licensed farmers growing marijuana outside in NY to help meet the supply. Now that hemp farmers will have two crops to grow.
The NY marijuana market will help them get two lines of income. Consumers of adult cannabis in New York are positive about the progress of marijuana legalization, although it has been an overly slow process.