NY Recreational Growing Pains

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Farmers in New York that hope to grow recreational marijuana might be out of luck this planting season. The state might not authorize the planting of that kind of cannabis for another year or more.

New York is home to nearly 700 cannabis growers. Many are licensed medical marijauna providers. About 100 grow and process hemp into products like rope, fabrics and oils.

It could take over a year for the state’s new Office of Cannabis Management to regulate how recreational marijuana can be locally grown and sold.

Allan Gandelman heads the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. He said that should have been a red flag to lawmakers when they made possession of a small amount of marijuana legal statewide on March 31.

“Cannabis is not for the faint of heart. It is a new industry and is going to have a ton of regulations and bottlenecks that, at times, we have regulations that actually are conflicting with each other, and we don’t know which ones are the right one, and who’s going to follow what and who’s doing enforcement,” Gandelman said.

The law says communities have until the end of this year to opt out of allowing retail marijuana to be sold. The state also expects to create rules over the next 18 months for New Yorkers to grow up to six plants at home. Under federal law, it’s illegal to buy marijuana and cross state lines.

So, Gandelman asks: “Where are New Yorkers supposed to buy pot?”

“These are just, no pun intended, these are growing pains. And the people that can navigate the growing pains, both with patience, intelligence, and capital, they could come out in the next three to five years being pretty successful. But it’s going to be really hard to do,” Gandelman said.

David Falkowski grows and processes hemp in eastern Long Island. He said the state needs to ease restrictions to level the playing field between corporations and small farmers, like him.

“I cannot use my audited cannabis processing facility for both hemp and marijuana. That’s just as, if not more, alarming. What I am looking at, the light at the end of the tunnel, the carrot on the stick for a lot of us is, we’re really looking at these micro-licenses… But there’s no flesh, there’s no coat hanging on that hanger,” Falkowski said.

Falkowski said the state should permit small farmers micro-licenses to grow and sell marijuana to compete with larger cannabis businesses.

Half of the licenses to grow and sell marijuana, whenever they are permitted, will be reserved for people from disproportionately affected communities and small farmers.