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Hochul announces opening of application portal for hemp farmers seeking license to grow adult-use cannabis


Tue, Mar 15th 2022 01:25 pm

First licensing opportunity for New York adult-use cannabis industry

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the opening of the web-based application portal for hemp farmers seeking to obtain a conditional license to grow adult-use cannabis in the 2022 growing season. The license was made possible by a law the governor signed last month.

"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. "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."

A press release said, “The opening of the application portal for the license advances the governor's first-in-the-nation seeding opportunity initiative, which positions individuals with prior cannabis-related criminal offenses to make the first adult-use cannabis sales with products grown by New York hemp farmers. This farm-to-store initiative is making sales in New York possible before the end of 2022, jumpstarting New York's cannabis industry, guaranteeing support for future equity applicants, and securing an early investment into communities most impacted by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition.

“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 Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said, "We are thrilled to open this portal and start the process of issuing our first licenses for the adult-use cannabis market. These licenses will position New York's farmers as the first growers in the NY adult-use market. Their products will supply our equity-entrepreneur-owned dispensaries through the seeding opportunity initiative as we strive to build a safe, equitable and stable industry."

Cannabis Control Board member Adam Perry said, "We have taken the next steps in building toward the opening of the adult-use cannabis market in New York with the availability of the portal today, and our other effort to have New York's farmers grow the cannabis that will be sold first by justice-involved entrepreneurs and then other license applicants. We intend to set an example of New York leadership in building a well-regulated, equitable and inclusive cannabis industry. I'm proud of the work our team is doing to deliver on the promise of New York's cannabis law to mitigate the harm caused by cannabis prohibition."

Cannabis Control Board member Jessica Garcia said, "Having New York farmers, not out-of-state corporations, grow the first adult-use cannabis while opening doors to family sustaining, union cannabis careers is a good start to the equitable New York cannabis industry we're building. I'm looking forward to the work ahead of us as we build support across the entire industry to help equity-entrepreneurs and our small businesses achieve long-term success."

Jen Metzger, Cannabis Control Board member and previous chair of the Agriculture Committee in the State Senate, said, "We are excited to offer this opportunity to New York's cannabinoid hemp farmers to diversify into the adult-use cannabis market, giving consumers access to sun-grown, sustainably cultivated products when the first dispensaries open their doors. We have an experienced team at OCM to support farmers through the licensing process and to help them develop robust mentorship partnerships with equity growers. I look forward to a productive growing season!"

Reuben McDaniel III, New York State Cannabis Control Board member and president and CEO of DASNY, said, "To achieve maximum economic benefit, New York's cannabis program is uniquely structured to create synergy between supply, distribution and people. Ensuring that farmers are able to supply our equity entrepreneurs with product grown in New York state in the 2022 growing season that they can sell on day one of their operations is critical to success for farmers as well as for entrepreneurs. This is one of several initiatives we will be announcing over the months ahead to make sure we have adequate supply of quality cannabis in the state and meet our social equity participation goals."

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.

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 Dec. 31, 2021 – when the research program ended. Farmers who apply will pay a nonrefundable $2,000 application and licensing fee, and applicants are strongly encouraged to read the program guidance before applying.

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.

Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, "Opening this portal today is the next step in bringing Gov. Hochul's seeding opportunity initiative to life as we break the mold and connect New York farmers to equity entrepreneurs who will make the first adult-use cannabis sales before the year is out. These products will be grown sustainably, and we will be partnering our licensees with equity mentees to build a mentorship program that creates another pathway for licensure. This is just another example of our work to ensure access and participation of our equity entrepreneurs across all license types."

Hochul's team said her seeding opportunity initiative, announced March 10, is “a national model for building an adult-use cannabis industry that starts by delivering on the promise to offset the harms on communities across the state that were most impacted by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition. Through the seeding opportunity initiative, New York farmers are growing the first adult-use cannabis, and justice-involved, successful business owners will make the first sales with support from Gov. Hochul's proposed $200 million New York social equity cannabis investment program, funded by licensing fees and private equity. Currently being discussed with the Legislature, the program would use industry-licensing fees and private equity to provide funding to equity-entrepreneurs at the front-end of the adult-use market. Specifically, these justice-involved, successful business owners would be supported with renovated or renovation-ready retail locations and wraparound services with dispensaries sited in high-traffic areas.”

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