Nearly 70 New York lawmakers on Tuesday sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) urging her to sign the Cannabis Crop Rescue Act which would allow state-licensed cannabis farmers to sell their products to dispensaries located on Tribal lands in the state. The law passed the Legislature in June but Hochul has yet to sign it into law.
New York’s adult-use rollout has been plagued by lawsuits, including one that has led to an injunction against any licensing under the current “conditional” rules that provided the first batch of retail licenses to social-equity applicants; however, in August, a judge found that the state broke its own rules by not including service-disabled military veterans in the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary program. Shortly after the decision, regulators announced they planned to open general licensing on October 4, which would likely end the legal challenge by veterans and related injunction.
In the letter to Hochul, the lawmakers note that “there are over 200 cannabis farmers trying to sell their crops but only 23 dispensaries open statewide,” which “has resulted in more than 250,000 pounds of unsold cannabis.”
During a Cannabis Control Board meeting earlier this month, regulators heard from farmers who complained about the slow rollout and the financial impact on their farms.
“Farmers who took out loans and leveraged all their assets to cultivate these crops are demoralized and facing financial disaster unless we act quickly to provide them with an alternate market,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “Allowing these farmers to sell their cannabis to purchasing agents from New York’s Tribal Nations can be a short-term solution. These Tribal dispensaries would benefit from access to a source of local, safe, laboratory-tested products. Farmers would benefit from a new pathway to sell their products. Along with the Cannabis Grower’s Showcases, it could be the financial lifeline they need right now.”
In a statement, Senate Agriculture Chair Michelle Hinchey (D) noted that “Many New York cannabis farmers are facing dire financial straits with unsold crops from last year, and time is running out to get products to market before they expire.”
Assembly Agriculture Chair Donna Lupardo (D) added that the state owed a debt to the cannabis farmers who “took a risk” to grow the crop.
“Many NY farmers are distressed for a number of reasons, but none more than this group,” she said in a statement. “Opening a one-time window for sales to Tribal Nations will provide some financial relief, while we are working on others means of recompense. There really is no time to waste, as this crop is degrading the longer it goes unsold.”
Earlier this month, the Office of Cannabis Management said it would open 1,500 licenses when the window opens in October.
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