Marijuana is legal for adults and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol; state also has a medical marijuana law
Cannabis Control Board and Gov. Hochul propose regulations to enact the Seeding Opportunity Initiative
Last update: March 28, 2022
On March 10, 2022, Gov. Hochul and the Cannabis Control Board announced proposed regulations that would enact the Seeding Opportunity Initiative. The Seeding Opportunity Initiative (SOI) would be compromised of three programs: (1) Equity Owners Lead Program; (2) Farmers First Program; and (3) The New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Program.
Equity Owners Lead Program
Under the Equity Owners Lead Program, individuals or business entities owned by an individual or parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, or dependent that were convicted of a cannabis-related offense in New York prior to March 31, 2021 will be eligible to apply for conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses. Successful applicants will be given access and support to renovated or renovation-ready locations for dispensaries in high-traffic areas. The conditional licenses will be valid for four years.
The Cannabis Control Board plans to open the application portal by early summer 2022 with the first set of licenses set for distribution in late summer or early fall 2022.
Farmers First Program
Under the Farmers First Program, hemp farmers that were licensed with the Department of Agriculture as of December 31, 2021 would be allowed to cultivate up to 43,500 square feet outdoors, 25,000 square feet in greenhouse facilities, or no more than 30,000 square feet comprising a combination of the outdoor and greenhouse space until June 2023. The Farmers First initiative was signed into law last month by Gov. Hochul.
The application portal for the Farmers First licenses will be open from March 15through June 30, 2022.
New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Program
Under the proposal, $200 million of the Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget would be dedicated towards supporting the adult-use cannabis market in New York. The Office of CM expects $50 million to be generated through licensing fees and $150 million to come from private equity. The monies would be used for capital and technical services to hemp farmers and individuals disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.
This prong of the proposed regulations remains subject to final approval of Gov. Hochul’s budget by the legislature.
Gov. Hochul signs bill to speed up adult-use cannabis cultivation
On February 22, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed S. 08084 into law. The legislation clears the way for existing New York hemp farmers to apply for conditional licenses to grow cannabis in the 2022 growing season.
Under the new law, hemp farmers that were licensed with the Department of Agriculture as of December 31, 2021 would be allowed to cultivate up to 43,500 square feet outdoors, 25,000 square feet in greenhouse facilities, or no more than 30,000 square feet comprising a combination of the outdoor and greenhouse space. The hemp businesses would be required to meet environmental sustainability, labor peace, and equity benchmarks to be allowed to cultivate and minimally process cannabis until June 2023. Hemp businesses issued provisional licenses are required to begin operations within six months of the license being issued. After June 2023, the hemp businesses are required to apply for a cultivator or processor license.
The Cannabis Control Board will open the application portal for licenses on March 15.
NY doctors can now recommend medical cannabis to treat any condition
On January 24, 2022, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) approved an expansion of the medical cannabis program to allow doctors the ability to prescribe cannabis for any condition. Prior to the expansion, doctors were only allowed to prescribe cannabis for a limited number of conditions permitted by statute. The expansion was authorized as part of OCM’s new Medical Cannabis Program certification and registration system.
Late last year, the Cannabis Control Board also moved forward with regulations to allow medical patients to grow up to six plants for personal use. Both changes were made possible by last year’s legalization law.
New York Cannabis Control Board and executive director appointed
New York’s Cannabis Control Board is now fully appointed. The Board held its first meeting on October 5, 2021. Under NY’s 2021 legalization law – the Marihuana Reform and Tax Act – the Board is charged with overseeing the Office of Cannabis Management which is responsible for developing regulations for the adult-use sale, transportation, and delivery of cannabis in the Empire State.
On September 2, 2021, Gov. Hochul announced the appointment of Christopher Alexander as executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management and former Assemblymember Tremaine Wright as chair of the Cannabis Control Board. The formation of the Board was delayed due to the resignation of Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In late March of 2021, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and legislative leaders reached consensus on the details of legalizing cannabis in the Empire State, and the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) received final approval from state legislators on March 30. The following day, Gov. Cuomo signed the bill to legalize adult-use cannabis, making New York the 16th state to end cannabis prohibition!
New York was the third state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature, following Illinois and Vermont.
Under the legislation, adults over 21 may possess up to three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrate, plus adults can grow a maximum of three mature plants and three immature plants once regulations are adopted. Legal possession of up to three ounces is effective immediately. Additionally, the law includes provisions for automatic expungement, community reinvestment, and measures to ensure the industry includes communities that have been disproportionately targeted by cannabis enforcement. A summary of the MRTA is available here.
Congratulations to the Empire State on this huge victory!