In April 2021, New Yorkers celebrated as the state became the 17th nationwide to legalize recreational cannabis. While implementation got off to a slow start, cannabis legalization in New York has been slowly picking up steam. The Cannabis Control Board met again in November to provide more insight into the pending business license process. Municipalities have been actively determining whether or not they’ll allow cannabis dispensaries and have until December 31s to make their decisions. And in the meantime, seizures of cannabis have been down by 61% while the NY Department of Labor enacted new restrictions on employer marijuana testing.
New York Cannabis Implementation Status
The process of New York cannabis legalization didn’t get the running start many people were hoping for. Shortly after former Governor Andrew Cuomo passed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), he became embroiled in several scandals. Cuomo failed to make appointments to the newly established Cannabis Control Board (CCB) during his remaining time in office. And with no one spearheading the charge, legalization hit a roadblock.
Fortunately, New York’s new Governor, Kathy Hochul, has made adult-use cannabis implementation a priority. Since taking office in August, Kathy’s first action was to name the Chair and the Executive Director of the CCB, followed by four board members.The organization has since met seven times, creating vast legal framework to bring hemp, medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis to New Yorkers.
New York’s Cannabis Control Board Meetings
During its first meeting on October 5th, New York’s CCB worked hard to make up for lost time – and that’s excellent news. The first meeting focused on adding staff to the office, confirming board member appointments, and making immediate changes to the medical marijuana program. In its second meeting on October 21st, the board voted to award itself the power to create regulations for home cultivation of medical cannabis.
The CCB’s third meeting confirmed an 18-month timeline for issuing business licenses, which will occur in 2023. The Board also issued regulations around home growing of up to six plants for medical marijuana patients and designated caregivers. Still, New Yorkers must wait until after the 60-day comment period ends in December and regulations are put into place.
The CCB’s fourth meeting took place on December 16th. Its agenda focused on outstanding medical cannabis initiatives and cannabinoid hemp regulations and general housekeeping items related to its staffing and office locations.
The most pertinent resolutions were directly related to hemp:
- 2021-10 reiterates that the Cannabis Control Board has the authority to govern cannabinoid hemp and hemp extract products (along with its cannabis oversight duties). The resolution then allows the Office of Cannabis Management to to file CCB’s proposed regulatory amendments with the New York State Department of State for public comment.
- The CCB also issued Proposed Cannabinoid Hemp Regulations, which will amend New York’s prior rules once published. The added language defines a Cannabinoid hemp farm processor as someone licensed to cultivate flower and manufacturer hemp flower products. According to the rules, processors can produce no more than 1,000 pounds of dried hemp annually nor purchase or sell hemp outside of its own operations.
- The CCB also created a new term, Craft to mean a cannabinoid hemp product that a licensed processor created by hand trimming and hang drying; and if the final product was hand-packaged.
What is the Cannabis Control Board?
The Cannabis Control Board (CCB) is the governing body for cannabis in the State of New York, which also oversees the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). Tremaine Wright chairs the Board, and Chris Alexander serves as the Executive Director. Board members include Jessica Garcia, Adam Perry, Jen Metzger, and Reuben McDaniel III.
What does the Cannabis Control Board Do?
The CCB is responsible for creating the rules and regulations for the New York cannabis market. Its tasks include:
- Establishing a process for license applications
- Building regulations for license applications
- Approving or denying business licenses
- Overseeing the cultivation, production, distribution, sale, and taxation of cannabis and hemp
- Developing rules for adult-use home growing and medical cannabis home growing.
- Creating rules around labels and packaging requirements for hemp and Delta 8 THC products.
How Legalization Affects New Yorkers Today
Immediately: Expanding New York’s Medical Marijuana Access
The most significant focus of the October meeting was the changes to the state’s medical-marijuana program. As a result, medical patients can purchase marijuana flower in up to a 60-day supply rather than pre-ground flower in a 30-day supply.
Additionally, the OCM expanded the number of providers able to write medical marijuana prescriptions from doctors only to any practitioner licensed to prescribe a controlled substance, including dentists, podiatrists, and midwives. They also waived the $50 patient and caregiver application fee.
Learn more about what New Yorkers can do RIGHT NOW, like smoking cannabis outdoors in public areas.
2022-2023: Home Growing in New York
New Yorkers are anxiously waiting for the CCB to create policies around medical cannabis home grow practices. By law, the CCB should have written these policies no later than six months after the MRTA passed, but they missed the deadline. In CCBs October meeting, it kicked off a 60-day public comment period for home cultivation, after which it may establish interim rules.
Recreational home growers will have to wait a little longer. New Yorkers will be able to grow up to 12 plants per household, but not until after the start of retail sales. The OCM must develop regulations for home growing no later than 18 months after retail sales start.
2022-2023: Dispensaries in New York
At the Cannabis Control Board’s latest meeting, the board asked the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to file proposed dispensary regulations, including license applications and eligibility requirements. On the same day, Governor Hochul explained that New York will be the first and only US program granting people with prior cannabis convictions priority access to retail licenses. This move positions “equity-entrepreneur-owned dispensaries” to make the first adult-use sales in New York State–hopefully by the end of 2022!
2022: Growing and Processing in New York
On March 15th, New York’s Cannabis Control Board finally started accepting adult use cultivator license applications. Only current New York hemp growers are eligible to apply in the inital phase, giving smaller operaters the chance to be the first to enter the state’s burgeoning adult use industry. The license fee is an approachable (non-refundable) $2,000, aligning with the New York’s commitment to equality and inclusivity. Approved farmers can being growing adult-use cannabis in Spring 2022.
2023: Cannabis Consumption Lounges in New York
One of the highlighted parts of the MRTA bill was the creation of specific consumption lounge licenses, where New Yorkers can go to consume marijuana. The CCB didn’t touch on the timeline for opening consumption lounges or the application process, but we can expect that to take priority at one of the upcoming meetings.
2023: Delivery Services in New York
Like consumption lounges, marijuana delivery service licenses were essential for the MRTA. But like the other licenses, the Board is currently developing the application process and criteria.
Where Can I Buy Cannabis Legally in New York?
While New Yorkers can possess up to three ounces of flower or 24 grams of concentrates (if over 21), they still can’t legally buy, grow, or sell the plant. Retail sales won’t start until 2023, BUT there are a few legally gray exceptions.👇
Somewhat Legal Cannabis Sales from Indigenous New York Tribes
Fortunately, there is an option for New Yorkers who don’t mind a drive. Several New York Indian nations have opened cannabis shops, citing their sovereign nation status. Located along the St. Lawrence River and Canadian border, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe has nearly a dozen dispensaries selling recreational THC products, including pre-rolls, gummies, edibles, and tinctures. It’s important to note that the tribal leaders attempted to shut down these dispensaries, which operated since before adult-use passed in the state. However, tribal courts ruled against the attempt. St. Regis Mohawk leaders recently issued their first legal cannabis permits to three cultivators operating on tribal territory.
The Senecas and Cayugas have also set or established frameworks to allow dispensaries in their territories. And while operating in a legal gray area, New York authorities have not interfered with any existing operations. As of this writing, these dispensaries are open to all New York adults–not just tribe members.
On the medical side, the Shinnecock Indian Nation is building a medical marijuana cultivation facility, dispensary, and wellness center, with sales projected to start within the year.
What’s Next for Cannabis in New York?
The Board is making up for lost time, and they have their work cut out to create rules for applications, businesses, and packaging for cannabis and hemp.
While the CCB works out the details, New York’s various municipalities have until the end of 2021 to decide if they want to opt-out of having dispensaries. However, they cannot opt-out of having production businesses or legalization as a whole.
Discover which New York municipalities opted in and out of cannabis dispensaries and what it means for residents in Medical Mike’s recent blog.
How is New York Different from the Other Legal States?
New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act is unique. Unlike other states with legal adult-use cannabis, New York emphasized creating safe spaces for cannabis consumption, prioritizing small businesses over multi-state operators, social equity, and giving people the right to grow at home. Now, all eyes are on the CCB to ensure they stick with their pledge to award 50% of licenses to social and economic equity applicants once the regulations are complete.
While New Yorkers have to wait a bit longer to start purchasing cannabis products over the counter, these crucial changes to the medical marijuana program will allow thousands more people to access the healing powers of the plant. We at Medical Mike’s are excited to see legalization moving forward again finally, so every New Yorker can benefit.
In the meantime waiting on a recreational dispensary might take time we suggest checking out an NY medical dispensary such as: Fp wellness
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