Stores expected to put local cannabis products on shelves this year
SHARON — Just a few miles from the tourist hotspot of Sharon Springs, thousands of organically grown marijuana plants are beginning to grow with the help of an irrigation system and the sun beating down from the sky.
State cannabis market regulators visited the grow operation on Friday, after giving the grower the green light to grow a plant that until March 2021 was illegal in New York.
Once the crop is harvested in about two months, it will be sent to a processing facility. There it will be transformed into products that will end up on the shelves of the first recreational marijuana stores in New York.
“We plan to open stores and sales by the end of the year,” Chris Alexander, director of the state Office of Cannabis Management, told CNHI during a stop in the city of Schoharie County of some 1,840 people.
The launch of the state’s marijuana program will get a boost in the form of $200 million in public money through the state’s Dormitory Authority. This agency has begun collecting proposals related to the state’s Cannabis Social Equity Investment Program.
This scheme, according to the Dormitory Authority, is designed to “facilitate business opportunities for those affected by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition. The program will help them overcome barriers faced by capital entrepreneurs in other states, including accessing the capital needed to find, lease, build and equip suitable real estate for their retail business’s dispensaries. cannabis.
Asked when New York might catch up to what is now a well-established marijuana market in neighboring Massachusetts, Alexander said, “It will take some time for the market to fully mature, when we have full access to the whole state for everyone. But we are certainly very sensitive to making sure that when we start this exercise, we start this process of setting up and running the clinics. »
Citing security concerns, state officials asked that the exact location of the marijuana farm officials visited on Friday not be disclosed.
Alexander said he doesn’t foresee New York reaching a point where the market is so saturated with retail pot stores that operators won’t be able to maintain operations, noting that regulators will be watching the market closely. number of stores that will be needed to meet consumer demand.
“We’re going to grow and see what the demand is, and so that way we won’t run out of products on our shelves but also not have excess products that can’t be put in the dispensaries,” Alexander said. .
The state’s Cannabis Control Board has decided to award the first round of adult-use retail store licenses to applicants impacted by enforcement of the now-repealed marijuana ban as well as those who have “strong business backgrounds,” state officials said.
The application period for these dispensary licenses is expected to be released by the Office of Cannabis Management later this summer.
“Everything we see growing here will be on the shelves this fall when we open the doors to our first dispensaries and really kick off adult-use cannabis sales in our state,” Tremaine Wright, president of the Cannabis Control Council, says. .
New York is one of 18 states that allow recreational use of marijuana, and 14 of those states allow commercial cannabis sales.
A US Senate bill to end the federal marijuana ban is expected to be introduced before the August recess. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, is among those who have signaled his support for legalizing marijuana.
The federal ban hampered the ability of marijuana companies to have relationships with banks and accept credit card transactions.
A memo sent to staff members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned that marijuana remains prohibited under federal law even when obtained by prescription and advised them to refrain from investing in cannabis companies, Marijuana Moment, an online news site, reported last month.