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New York Approves First Slate of Cannabis Cultivation Licenses

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Regulators in New York on Thursday approved dozens of licenses for cultivating cannabis as part of the Empire State’s forthcoming recreational cannabis program.

The New York Cannabis Control Board said that it had signed off on “the first 52 adult-use cannabis cultivation licenses for farms across the state.”

“The first cannabis product on dispensary shelves will come from NY’s hard-working family farmers, not out-of-state corporations,” the board announced on Twitter.

Political leaders in New York heralded the announcement as a big step toward the state’s intended launch of retail cannabis sales later this year.

“New York’s farms have been the backbone of our state’s economy since before the American Revolution, and now, New York’s farms will be at the center of the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “I’m proud to announce the first adult-use cannabis cultivation licenses in the state, and I’m proud of the work the Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board are doing to get adult-use cannabis sales up and running as fast as possible without compromising our mission to uplift communities and individuals most impacted by the past century of cannabis prohibition.” 

Last month, Hochul announced the Seeding Opportunity Initiative, which requires that the first 100-200 recreational dispensary licenses in New York go to individuals with previous cannabis-related convictions, or who have family members with such convictions on their records.

As part of the initiative, New York farmers already growing hemp were given the first crack at growing cannabis for the adult-use market.

“Farmers must adhere to quality assurance, health, and safety requirements developed by the [Office of Cannabis Management],” Hochul’s office explained in the announcement of the initiative. “They must also take part in sustainability and equity mentorship programs that will help build the first generation of equity cannabis owners across the entire supply chain. These conditional licenses make it possible for farmers to grow cannabis in the 2022 growing season.”

New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said Thursday that the “approval of the first 52 provisional cultivation licenses will help create a responsible start to the [New York state] cannabis industry by granting cultivators the ability to produce enough product and inventory for social equity retail dispensaries to meet the initial demand of the anticipated legal market.”

“We are on our way towards realizing our goal of creating a viable and inclusive path for minorities and small farmers to have the opportunity to create generational wealth for their families and communities. I am proud of the work conducted thus far by the NYS Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board, and I look forward to our actions bearing fruit,” Peoples-Stokes said in a statement.

New York legalized recreational cannabis use last year when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law.

But the regulated market was slow to take shape under Cuomo, who resigned in August amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Since taking over as the state’s first female governor, Hochul has been determined to get the adult-use program up and running.

In September, she completed overdue appointments to the Office of Cannabis Management.

“New York’s cannabis industry has stalled for far too long—I am making important appointments to set the Office of Cannabis Management up for success so they can hit the ground running,” Hochul said in a statement at the time.

Officials in New York are hopeful that recreational pot sales will begin later this year. Until then, New Yorkers can always cross the bridge to New Jersey, where adult-use dispensaries are slated to open next week.





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