Bill allowing New York hemp farmers to grow marijuana heads to governor

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A bill that would provide New York hemp farmers a conditional license to grow, process and distribute adult-use marijuana products is going to the governor’s desk after being passed by the state Assembly.

The state Senate passed its version, S8084A, earlier this week.

The legislation is designed to help jump-start the state’s projected $2.5 billion recreational marijuana industry by providing more initial supply as well as support the program’s social equity goals.

The measure includes a provision to provide mentorship to minority farmers.

Two partners in Greenspoon Marder’s cannabis law practice wrote in a blog post that the bill is a “potentially clever and elegant solution” to what could be severe supply constraints.

Experts have been worried about supply for both the medical cannabis and adult-use market because the state has licensed only 10 MMJ operators.

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But the success of a hemp farmer program will hinge on several factors, wrote Chicago-based Greenspoon Marder attorneys Irina Dashevsky and Douglas Sargent, including:

  • The ability of regulators to quickly promulgate regulations and manage an application and licensing process for the hemp farmers.
  • The ability of hemp farmers to quickly pivot to marijuana cultivation and the complexities of the products.
  • How much volume hemp farmers can bring to the market in safe marijuana products.