On February 22, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation creating a new Conditional Adult-use Cannabis Cultivator license. This new license creates an expedited pathway for existing New York hemp farmers to apply for a conditional license to grow cannabis. The legislation acknowledges that cannabis cultivation is necessary to fuel the forthcoming adult-use cannabis market.
Under the new law, conditionally licensed cannabis farmers must meet certain requirements, including safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly cultivation practices, participation in a social equity mentorship program, and engagement in a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.
The Governor stated, “New York State will continue to lead the way in delivering on our commitment to bring economic opportunity and growth to every New Yorker in every corner of our great state.”
According to the State’s website, (https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-conditional-cannabis-cultivation-bill), with a conditional adult-use cannabis cultivation license, farmers would be authorized to grow outdoors or in a greenhouse for up to two years from the issuance of the license. The license would also allow farmers to manufacture and distribute cannabis flower products without holding an adult-use processor or distributor license, until June 1, 2023. However, cultivators are limited to one acre of flowering canopy outdoors or 25,000 square feet of greenhouse space and can use a maximum of 20 artificial lights.
The NY Office of Cannabis Management will be developing a license application process and hopes to open the program as soon as possible.
Significantly, to qualify for an Adult-use Cannabis Conditional Cultivator License, an applicant must have been an authorized industrial hemp research partner for the Department of Agriculture and Markets, cultivating hemp for its non-intoxicating cannabinoid content for at least two of the past four years and in good standing as of December 31, 2021, when the research program ended.
Licensees must also participate in a social equity mentorship program where they provide training in cannabis cultivation and processing for social and economic equity partners, preparing them for potential roles in the industry.
Growers will also be required to meet sustainability requirements to ensure that the plants are grown in an environmentally responsible manner.
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