New Yorkers registered as patients with the state can soon grow their own cannabis.
New York’s Cannabis Control Board held its second meeting on Thursday, during which it released proposed regulations for home cultivation that were due weeks ago. But former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, hadn’t appointed cannabis regulators by the time he stepped down in August, even though he’d signed adult use into law in March, and so the regulatory regime languished until Gov. Kathy Hochul took office.
“We are proud to present those proposed regulations,” said Tremaine Wright, chair of the CCB. Patients cannot yet grow their own cannabis. The regulations will now be published on a state register, and will be subject to a 60-day public comment window.
“The home cultivation of medical cannabis will provide certified patients with a cost-effective means of obtaining cannabis through personal cultivation, while creating a set of standards governing the conduct and activities relating to the personal cultivation of cannabis,” Wright said.
Certified patients, or their caregiver, must be 21 or older, and will be allowed to grow up to six plants (three mature and three immature). Households can grow no more than 12 plants total. There will be exceptions to who can grow, though, because landlords reserve the right to ban home cultivation of cannabis. It’s also not allowed in housing subsidized by the federal government.
Regarding potential hires, Wright said that the Board has fielded quite a bit of interest for open positions and that officials have been “busy canvassing, reviewing resumes, and interviewing.”
“We also have continued to work with our partners in government to ensure a smooth transition of daily staff to the new [Office of Cannabis Management] office. The transition is currently underway,” she said, adding that she’s been meeting with staff of the Cannabinoid Hemp Program, too.
The Office of Cannabis Management executive director Chris Alexander also gave a report on expungement of cannabis records. Under the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act, which Sen. Liz Krueger and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes sponsored, the expungement process is automatic, but agencies have up to two years to create the framework. Roughly 198,000 records were expunged in 2019, Alexander said, with another 203,000 now being “suppressed” from criminal background searches while they’re in process of being expunged.
“No one should have records for the same activities that are now legalized, and businesses are generating profits from,” Alexander said.
Wright said that there are currently 38 medical cannabis shops across New York. Though, gray market sellers of cannabidiol, delta-8 THC, and delta-9 THC products have shown up, from New York City bodegas to street fairs.
Wright reminded meeting attendees that the adult use market has not launched.
“We do not have any adult use nor recreational dispensaries. Any individual selling cannabis or marijuana products in these unlicensed dispensaries, pop up shops, or markets is not licensed, nor are they selling safe tested products,” Wright said, emphasizing that all unlicensed sales or distribution of cannabis remains illegal.
Gifting or transferring cannabis between adults 21 years or older without transferring money or services is legal, as long as everything stays within possession limits.
Still, Wright said, perhaps anticipating what has happened in other jurisdictions, where people sell pizzas or t-shirts for higher prices and “gift” cannabis, “gifting does not include instances in which cannabis is given away at the same time as another transaction, nor when it is offered or advertised in conjunction with an offer for the sale of goods or services.”
The first meeting of the CCB was focused on hiring for positions like New York’s first chief equity officer. The Board also voted to allow for cannabis flower in the existing medical market. Previously, only smokeless products, which typically cost patients more, were permitted.
The Board has been busy behind the scenes, too. As Cannabis Wire reported this week in our daily newsletter, Wright and board member Jen Metzger recently toured Hepworth Farms and Earthborn Garden, two hemp farms in the state.
“The new cannabis industry will provide a wide-range of opportunity in New York State and we must ensure that as cannabis farming expands, it does so in a way that’s sustainable, minimizing impact on our environment and our climate,” Wright said.
Metzger added, “The farms we visited today provide exemplary models of sustainable and regenerative farming practices at different scales of cannabis cultivation, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn from them.”