New York Cannabis Updates: Cultivators, Retailers, and Sales
New York continues to make strides toward instituting legal weed sales by the end of 2022. Here we recap the latest news from New York’s latest Cannabis Control Board meetings, including lab testing, medical home-growing amendments, and the latest retail dispensary rules.
Important Updates from New York’s CCB Meetings
Since our last New York Cannabis update, New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) has met four times, amending rules relating to laboratory testing, the medical marijuana program, adult-use dispensaries, and more. Here are the critical updates.
July 14, 2022
To recap, New York’s CCB achieved two significant milestones in July:
- The CCB approved Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Regulations (CAURD Regulations). Notably, applicants must meet two main eligibility requirements:
- The applicant (or a family member) must have had a cannabis-related legal offense before the Marihuana Regulation, and Taxation Act was passed on March 31, 2021.
- The applicant must have experience owning and operating a qualifying business.
The official application process for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license applications opened on August 25 and closed on September 26th, with retail sales aimed for the end of 2022.
August 15, 2022
During its August meeting, the CCB moved to add processors and laboratories to the cannabis supply chain—getting another step closer to launching adult-use sales and opening recreational shops.
Following the meeting, the CCB greenlighted emergency laboratory testing regulations and immediately opened the application process for facilities that met their requirements.
Under the rules:
- New York’s medical cannabis facilities could apply to test recreational products, and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) could immediately greenlight these facilities.
- All laboratories must be ISO 17025-accredited and use third-party sampling firms to select samples for testing.
- Regulators must establish a state reference laboratory for quality control, ensuring laboratories are submitting accurate potency testing results.
At the August meeting, the CCB approved the first Adult-Use Conditional Processor licenses for a total of 15 approved applications.
- The Adult-Use Conditional Processor license authorizes the license holder to process and distribute their cannabis products (over 0.3% THC) — using cannabis flower grown by New York farmers — for two years or until they transition to a non-conditional processor license.
- Processors must participate in a mentorship program for social equity applicants and an environmental sustainability program.
Dispensary Licenses Plan:
Finally, the OCM released a regional breakdown showing how it would distribute initial dispensary approvals.
- New York would award 150 licenses across 14 regions, concentrating the most in boroughs like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island.
- People who receive CAURD licenses could access a $200 million Social Equity Cannabis Fund.
September 13 and 20, 2022
In September, New York marijuana regulators continued to accept applications for the first adult-use cannabis retailer licenses. Officials also voted to adopt home-grow rules for medical cannabis patients.
Medical patients can grow their own:
The CCB revised New York’s medical home cultivation laws, officially approving medical home growing.
- Patients can cultivate up to three mature and three immature plants at home.
- A residence (containing at least two certified medical patients over the age of 21) can cultivate no more than six mature and six immature plants.
- Patients can possess up to five pounds of cannabis at home.
- The regulations took effect on October 5, 2022.
The CCB made several substantial amendments to the existing cannabinoid hemp regulations, including:
- A new license type for cannabinoid hemp processors
- Requirements for using the term “craft” when labeling and marketing cannabinoid hemp products
- Removing the need that cannabinoid hemp products be “shelf-stable,” allowing for a broader array of products
- Raising the per-serving milligram limit for dietary-supplement cannabinoid hemp products from 75 milligrams to 100 milligrams, which aligns better with current products.
More license approvals:
The CCB approved an additional 19 Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator licenses and another ten Adult-Use Conditional Processor licenses, bringing the total number of cultivators to 261 and processors to 25.
October Updates: Dispensary Guidelines Released
On October 28, the OCM officially published guidelines for New York’s first marijuana retail license holders, clearing a significant goalpost for the state’s end-of-year deadline.
- Notably, the guidelines say retail dispensaries’ true parties of interest cannot have interest in any businesses—in or outside New York—that cultivate, process, or distribute weed. The rule effectively bars vertically integrated multistate operators from cannabis retail in New York state.
- The guidelines also cover recordkeeping, training, and inventory and tracking requirements.
As a result of these rules, Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state’s plan to have 20 retail dispensaries open by the end of this year is “still on track.” New Yorkers can expect “another 20” to open every month or so after that.
As New York awaits retail weed sales, unlicensed marijuana dispensaries multiply.
Despite some unfinished regulatory business, unlicensed New York City dispensaries operate openly. Shops point to loopholes to make the case that they’re operating legally, using “memberships” rather than taking money for weed directly. Technically they’re not wrong. Under the law, transferring up to three ounces of cannabis to someone 21 or older is legal as long as there’s no compensation involved. State Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat representing southern Brooklyn and Staten Island, introduced a bill in early March to close any potential loopholes in the law. But it’s unlikely these businesses will face any consequences.
The Bottom Line
Confusion and loopholes regarding New York’s marijuana legalization do exist, but the state is on track to open legal retail dispensaries by its 2022 deadline. The CCB recently issued the first processor licenses, passed emergency testing laws, officially dropped guidelines for the first retail locations, and even updated regulations to allow medical users to grow weed at home.
Medical Mike’s is keeping up with all cannabis news in the Northeast states, so check weekly for updates on New York’s cannabis sales and regulations.