ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New York State’s legalized marijuana scene is growing. On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law to fast-track the industry.
Three components of this “Conditional Cannabis Cultivation” bill make up the heart of this bill; those include equity, inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
This law will now provide a foundation for the cannabis market industry in New York by starting at the root: the farmers.
“Today, the Governor’s legislation that she signed is just the first step. It creates that growing license so that when we do have retail operations they actually have a product to sell,” said Sen. Jeremy Cooney, who sponsored the legislation.
Progress now coming to fruition after adult-use of recreational marijuana was legalized in NYS last year. Hemp farmers will now be able to apply for a provisional license to grow cannabis.
“We understand it’s only going to be about 200 licenses that are eligible to apply for this license, which is a little bit unfortunate for some farmers who were looking forward to getting into the business,” says Jeremy Jimenez, Co-Founder of Honest Farm Co.
This measure being signed into law just before March is critical for timing for farmers who need to prep their crops.
“You’re not going to just plant a seed in the ground, that’s not how it works. You really need to have the seeds sprouted, the stalk hardened off and then *ready to go into the ground,” Jimenez explains.
The equity portion means hemp farmers with existing licenses must have participation in a social equity mentorship program — helping guide those interested in learning about the industry.
Industry licensing fees and revenue will contribute millions of dollars to help communities, like Rochester, impacted by the overcriminalization of cannabis during its prohibition.
“It’s kind of like the prohibition of alcohol. The people that did it the best were the guys that were doing it in their garage or in their basement. It’s the same with cannabis. You’ve got some of the best growers that got caught… they’re the ones that should – you know they know the industry. They should have a chance at it, they’re the ones that made this industry what it is,” Jimenez adds.
The sustainability component encourages outdoor growing, versus indoor cultivation.
“The reason why is because a.) we have experienced hemp farmers who know the industry, know the climate, know the soil in New York, but b.) we know that it’s a lot less costly and a lot less of an environmental impact when you’re growing naturally outside,” Sen. Cooney explains.
The NYS Office of Cannabis Management tells News 8 they are quickly working to implement a rollout of the application for these provisional licenses this March.