New York approved 52 licenses Thursday that will allow hemp farmers to get a head start on growing marijuana for the state's upcoming adult market.
The state Cannabis Control Board approved the licenses under a recent law that allows hemp cultivators to grow marijuana for the legal recreational market for two years. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant with lower levels of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient.
The granting of the licenses now means farmers will be able to take advantage of this year's growing season and harvest in October, said Allan Gandelman, a Cortland-based hemp grower and the president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association.
“We have a narrow window here. Most people are planting cannabis in our area around May and June. So we’re pretty much there,” said Gandelman, who received a license.
The farmers will be limited to one acre of flowering canopy outdoors or a little more than half that space in a greenhouse. They also can split between outdoor and greenhouse grows.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has said the so-called conditional cultivation licenses will help “jump-start” what’s expected to become one of the nation's largest legal marijuana markets. While New York legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults a year ago, statewide retail sales appear months off.
State officials have said initial sales could begin by the end of the year under a program providing the first licenses to people affected by marijuana-related convictions. Regulations for the entire adult-use market are expected this summer.
The law requires licensees to provide training for people of color, women, disabled veterans and others the state terms social equity applicants.
“New York’s farms have been the backbone of our state’s economy since before the American Revolution, and now, New York’s farms will be at the center of the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation,” Hochul said in a prepared release.