Governor Hochul Announces Opening of Application Portal for Hemp Farmers Seeking a License to Grow Adult-Use Cannabis

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the opening of the web-based application portal for hemp growers seeking a conditional license to grow adult cannabis in the 2022 growing season. The license was made possible by legislation the governor signed last month.

“New York is moving forward full steam ahead to create the most inclusive adult-use cannabis industry in the country through our Seeding Opportunity Initiative,” said Governor Hochul. “This initiative will provide meaningful economic empowerment opportunities for New York farmers and impacted communities. Now that our application portal is open, I encourage every eligible New York farmer to participate in the farm-to-sale pipeline that will create jobs and opportunity throughout the Empire State.”

The opening of the license application portal promotes the governor’s nation’s first Seeding Opportunity initiative, empowering individuals with prior cannabis-related offenses to make the first adult cannabis sales using produce grown by New York City hemp farmers. TIts farm-to-store initiative will enable sales in New York before the end of 2022, jumpstarting the New York cannabis industry, guaranteeing support for future equity applicants, and ensuring early investment in communities hardest hit by disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition .

Under the law, conditionally licensed cannabis growers must meet certain requirements, including safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly growing practices; Participation in a social justice mentoring program; and conclude an industrial peace agreement with a reputable labor organization. Launched today by the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, the portal allows cannabis growers seeking a conditional cannabis cultivation license for adult use to easily apply for one.

Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said: “We are very excited to open this portal and begin issuing our first licenses for the adult cannabis market. These licenses will position New York farmers as the first growers in the New York market for adult use. Their products will supply our equity entrepreneur-owned dispensaries through the Seeding Opportunity Initiative as we strive to build a safe, equitable and stable industry.”

Adam Perry, Member of the Cannabis Oversight Committeecalled, “With the availability of the portal today, and our other efforts to let New York farmers grow the cannabis that will be sold first by the judiciary, we have taken the next steps in preparing for the opening of the cannabis market for adult use in New York York work towards entrepreneurs and then other license applicants. We intend to set an example of New York’s leadership in building a well-regulated, equitable and inclusive cannabis industry. I am proud of the work our team is doing to deliver on the New York Cannabis Act’s promise to mitigate the harm caused by cannabis prohibition.”

Jessica Garcia, member of the Cannabis Control Board, said:“Having New York farmers and non-foreign corporations grow the first cannabis for adult use while opening the doors to family-sustaining, unionized cannabis careers is a good start for the equitable New York cannabis industry we are building. I look forward to the work that lies ahead as we build support across the industry to help equity entrepreneurs and our small businesses achieve long-term success.”

jens butcher, Member of the Cannabis Regulatory Board and former Chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the State Senate, said: “We are excited to offer cannabinoid hemp farmers in New York this opportunity to diversify into the adult cannabis market and provide consumers with access to sun-grown, sustainably-grown products when the first dispensaries open their doors. We have an experienced team at OCM looking forward to a productive growing season to support growers throughout the licensing process and help them build robust mentoring partnerships with equity investors!”

Ruben McDaniel, III, a member of the New York State Cannabis Control Board and President and CEO of DASNY, said: “To achieve maximum economic benefit, New York’s cannabis program is uniquely structured to create synergies between supply, distribution and people. Ensuring that growers in the 2022 growing season can provide our equity entrepreneurs with New York state produce to sell on day one of their operations is critical to success for both growers and entrepreneurs. This is one of several initiatives we will be announcing in the coming months to ensure we have an adequate supply of quality cannabis in the state and meet our goals for social justice participation. We thank Governor Hochul for the comprehensive vision she brought to the development of this new sector.”

With a conditional adult cannabis cultivation license, farmers can grow outdoors or in a greenhouse for up to two years from the date the license is issued. It also allows them to manufacture and distribute cannabis flower products without holding an adult processor or distributor license until June 1, 2023. Growers 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. You can also split between outdoor and greenhouse growing with a maximum total canopy of 30,000 square feet as long as the greenhouse flowering canopy stays under 20,000 square feet.

To qualify for a conditional grower’s license for cannabis for adult use, an applicant must have been an authorized industrial hemp research partner with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, having cultivated hemp for at least two of the last four years for its non-intoxicating cannabinoid content and in good condition Status as of December 31, 2021, when the research program ended. Farmers who apply will pay a non-refundable application and license fee of $2,000, and applicants are strongly encouraged to read them program guide before applying.

License holders are also required to participate in a social justice mentorship program, where they provide cannabis cultivation and processing training for social and economic justice partners and prepare them for potential roles in the industry. Growers must also meet sustainability requirements to ensure the cannabis is grown in an environmentally responsible manner.

Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management said: “Today’s launch of this portal is the next step in bringing Gov. Hochul’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative to life as we set new standards, connecting New York farmers with capital entrepreneurs who will be making their first adult cannabis sales before the end of the year. These products are sustainably grown and we will partner our licensees with equity mentees to build a mentoring program that creates another path to licensing. This is just another example of our work to ensure access and participation for our equity entrepreneurs across all license types.”

Seeding Opportunity Initiative by Governor Hochul, Announced on March 20, 2022, is a national model for building an adult-use cannabis industry that begins with delivering on a promise to offset the damages to communities across the state that have been hardest hit by disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition. Through the Seeding Opportunity Initiative, New York farmers are growing the first adult-grade cannabis, and successful business owners committed to serving the justice system will be the first to sell with support for Gov. Hochul’s proposed $200 million Social Justice Cannabis Investment Program operate in New York funded by licensing fees and private equity. The program, currently under discussion with the Legislature, would use industry royalties and private equity to provide funding to equity entrepreneurs at the front end of the market for adult use. Specifically, these judicial, successful entrepreneurs would be supported with refurbished or refurbishment-ready retail locations and full-service pharmacies in high-traffic areas.

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