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NY Fast Tracks Adult-Use Cannabis Program

It gives a jumpstart to local hemp farmers.

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed legislation that created a new conditional adult-use cannabis cultivator license.

The move allows existing New York hemp farmers to apply for licenses to grow cannabis this year for the forthcoming adult-use cannabis market.

Under the law, cannabis farmers must meet certain requirements, including safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly cultivation practices, participation in a social equity mentorship program and engagement in a labor peace agreement with a labor organization.

Hochul said in a statement that she was proud to sign a bill that gives New York farmers a jumpstart in the cannabis industry.

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.

The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will develop a license application process and open the program as soon as possible. To qualify, 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.

Licensees must also participate in a social equity mentorship program in which 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.

In January, the Governor's Executive Budget proposed a $200 million program that will use industry licensing fees and revenue to provide support to eligible applicants from communities impacted by the overcriminalization of cannabis during its prohibition.

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