NEW YORK, NY – The State Cannabis Control Board has made a surprising decision to cancel its scheduled January meeting, causing further delays in the regulation of homegrown cannabis and the processing of retail license applications. The delay is primarily due to ongoing litigation and the slow implementation of the cannabis industry in the state.
The Office of Cannabis Management released a statement just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, explaining that the meeting had been postponed to finalize the review of adult-use license applications. The statement emphasized the desire to prioritize the approval of licenses to jumpstart New York’s cannabis market in 2024. However, it also alleged that the licenses were being held up by corporate interests filing lawsuits, even though much of the litigation had been initiated by individuals who felt disadvantaged by the state’s licensing rules. For example, one critical case involved military veterans who claimed that regulators had violated the provisions of the law by prioritizing licenses for individuals with prior drug convictions.
According to the Times Union, remains unclear why the Cannabis Control Board chose to cancel the entire meeting instead of simply removing the item regarding the retail store license applications. Other important issues on the agenda included proposed homegrown regulations, research license applications, and amendments to retail cannabis rules.
Potential delays with the homegrown regulations could have significant consequences, including the possibility of extending public comment periods and jeopardizing the ability of individuals aged 21 and older to legally cultivate their own cannabis plants during the forthcoming growing season. This would be the fourth outdoor growing season since the legalization of cannabis in New York in 2021.
The draft regulations, if approved, would allow individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants, with three being mature and three immature. Since October 2022, individuals with medical marijuana prescriptions have been permitted to grow their own plants or have an approved caregiver grow plants for them. The proposed rules stipulate that each private residence, regardless of the number of adult residents, may have a maximum of six mature plants and six immature plants at any given time. Additionally, individuals are limited to possessing up to 5 pounds of trimmed cannabis flower cultivated within their private residence.
The provision in the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) requires regulations governing home cultivation of cannabis to be issued within 18 months of the first adult-use retail sale. However, the first legal sale of recreational marijuana in New York did not occur until December 2022 when Housing Works, a nonprofit organization, opened a retail marijuana shop in New York City.
To sell starter plants, retailers will need an active nursery dealer registration certificate from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. They will also be required to label each plant with information such as the strain, expected harvest date, and a warning to keep it away from children.
State officials have justified the delay in allowing homegrown marijuana as a means to prevent an excessive supply of marijuana that could hinder the success of newly established retail stores. These stores have already struggled to compete against unlicensed shops selling cannabis products in large numbers.