Local lawmaker hopes to expedite marijuana growing

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Even though marijuana was legalized in the state, growing it is not yet legal.

New York’s recreational cannabis legalization is a landmark legislation, but Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D-56) has now introduced a new bill that would provide provisional licenses for cannabis growers to begin growing as soon as possible.

Cooney said that the Office of Cannabis Management, a newly created department after the passage of recreational marijuana, is not fully functional nor is it currently operating. Cooney has introduced a bill he says will get the ball rolling for cannabis farmers and hopefully seeds planted in the ground ready for next year.

“We know our farmers are ready to get to work, they have people that they’ve hired. They want to be able to plant these crops across Upstate and Downstate New York, so we want them to be able to do so,” Cooney said.

“I’m committed to making sure that we don’t miss yet another growing season and to make sure that our farmers can get seeds in the ground,” he said.

Cannabis farmers like Allan Gandelman, who is also the president of the New York State Cannabis Grower’s Association, are hoping to grow THC next year and are supportive of the proposed legislation.

“The bill is amazing because it’s basically forcing New York state government to issue provisional licenses to people like me so we can start growing cannabis for the adult-use dispensaries,” Gandelman said.

Industry experts like Gandelman say that timing is of the essence when it comes to growing the plant.

“Our growing season in New York is very limited, so if we do not have plants in the ground by March of 2022, we will miss an entire year of growing cannabis, which means lost revenue, lost jobs, and there’s not going to be enough product on the market to supply the legal dispensaries that are going to open up next year,” Gandelman said.

“Everyone’s calling our office asking when they can get a license to open up a recreational marijuana store or retail operation. People are ready to go and making all the plans to do so. However, at the end of the day, what are they going to end up selling if they don’t have any marijuana product? So this legislation allows us to get that process started,” Cooney said.

Senator Cooney just introduced the provisional licensing bill on Monday, but it still needs a co-sponsor in the Assembly. If there is a special session this summer, there may be an opportunity to raise the bill. If not, it will then be reviewed in the next legislative cycle.