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Senator Proposes Temporary Pot Growing License

State Sen. Jeremy Cooney doesn’t want to let the state’s dilly-dallying deprive potential marijuana growers of a growing season next year.

Cooney, a Rochester Democrat, has introduced S.7295 in the state Senate to require the state Office of Cannabis Management board to establish a provisional adult-use cultivator license starting Jan. 1 if the board hasn’t already formally created the license. At the same time, the state Agriculture and Markets department would issue the licenses until the Office of Cannabis Management is able to do so.

“The adult-use cannabis industry is projected to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the state of New York,” Cooney wrote in his legislative justification. “In order to prepare for future cannabis sales, cultivators and farmers across the state will need to take advanced steps to obtain and begin growing the necessary crops. Seeds need to be planted by June 2022, and sources of these seeds need to located even earlier than that. Because of this, growers may need authorization before the adult-use cultivator’s licenses may be in place.”

Companion legislation has not yet been introduced in the state Assembly. Unless there is a special session, which is not likely, the bill won’t be discussed until the next legislative session begins in January.

The end of the state’s legislative session came and went without any appointments to the 13-member Cannabis Control Board nor an appointment to serve as head of the Office of Cannabis Management. The director of the Office of Cannabis Management is appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and confirmed by the state Senate while seven members of the Cannabis Control Board are appointed by Cuomo and three each are appointed by the Senate and Assembly leadership. None of those appointments were made before the end of the legislative session. They won’t take place now until at least January unless the legislature returns for a special session.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes had previously estimated it could take 18 months to two years for sales to start, though many assumed that meant appointments to leadership positions would happen before the end of the legislative session. That timetable is likely not going to be met.

“I would be amazed if it goes as quickly and smoothly as they anticipated,” Asssemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, told The Post-Journal in June.

The Office of Cannabis Management will oversee medical and recreational marijuana sales as well as the state’s existing hemp and CBD businesses. The legislation establishes adult-use license categories of cultivator, processor, distributor, retail medical cannabis registered organizations vertical, RO cultivator, microbusiness, on-site consumption, cooperative, delivery and nursery. Microbusinesses are authorized to have complete vertical integration, which includes producing, processing, distributing and retail. An adult-use cultivator would be able to obtain one processor, one distributor and one nursery license. Register organizations would be allowed to, after paying a one-time special fee, apply for a vertically integrated adult-use cultivator/processor/distributor/retail license, limited to no more than three co-located dispensaries.

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