A measure to allow license industrial hemp growers in the state to cultivate and process adult use cannabis this year now awaits a signature from New York Governor Kathy Hochul after passing both chambers in the state legislature.
Gov. Hochul “looks forward to reviewing the bill” amid her effort to put “New York’s farmers at the forefront of this new industry,” a spokesperson for the governor’s office said in a prepared statement.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) and majority leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes (D) said this week the bill will secure the supply of regulated cannabis to meet demand when retail dispensaries open.
It also calls for a social equity mentorship program as part of an overall effort by New York State Cannabis Control Board to include women and minorities in the budding cannabis business as a way to counteract unfair treatment during the War on Drugs.
The bill would create a “viable and inclusive path for social and economic equity partners interested in cannabis cultivation and processing,” said Peoples-Stokes, who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly.
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The Assembly voted Wednesday to approve the bill, a day after the state Senate OK’d it.
“Our existing hemp growers, who have been some of the hardest hit by market fluctuations, already have the knowledge base to meet this need, and I’m proud to sponsor legislation to help them obtain conditional licenses, which will allow New York to implement its cannabis program faster,” State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D) said in a statement.
To qualify for a temporary license, cultivators must already be valid industrial hemp growers authorized by the Department of Agriculture as of Dec. 31 and have grown and harvested hemp for at least two of the last four years.
The temporary license would allow holders to manufacture and distribute cannabis products. On June 1, 2023, both cultivators and processors must also apply for a distributor license, with all temporary licenses expiring on June 30, 2024.
It’s the second piece of major legislation for cannabis in New York after the legislature voted in favor of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) in March of 2021.
Also read: New York State to create $200 million fund to support social equity cannabis licensees