Local Farmers Ready to Supply Legal Marijuana Market in New York

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – As New York State inches closer to a legal marijuana market, News10NBC is getting a closer look at the emerging business of farming the plants.  The first crop for the first adult-use sales in New York is being harvested now and a number of local farms have been approved by New York State as growers. 

“It’s amazing to see what our farmers in the Rochester community can do when they’re given an opportunity,” said Damian Fagon, the Chief Equity Officer at the New York State Office of Cannabis Management while standing at a farm in the Rochester area on Monday.

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The exact location and name of the farm is being withheld.  Although they all have strict security protocols in place, many of the farmers approved for growing are concerned about safety if it was known they were farming large amounts of marijuana. 

Most of the 261 family farms licensed to grow, have farmed other crops for decades and continue to do so, “what we’ve found is that it is possible to build a market that’s focused on small and medium sized businesses, that’s focused on family businesses getting an opportunity to be a part of this industry that has the potential to bring so much life to New York,” says Chris Alexander, the Executive Director of the NYS Office of Cannabis Management. 

There’s no doubt that a legal marijuana market can be a controversial topic.  Assemblyman Josh Jensen was at the farm on Monday too and says he’s heard comments from many of his constituents on both sides of the debate, “we have a unique opportunity to make it the best industry it can be and we’re only going to be doing that and moving forward if we actually talk to the people who are farming it, people who are processing it, the end-users, as well as people who may have some concerns on this new type of industry,” he says.

The first licenses for legal cannabis dispensaries will go to people who have been arrested for marijuana offenses in New York State in the past and have run a profitable business for at least two years since.  Those folks will have access to storefronts that are currently being scouted and secured and will be built into retail spaces by the NYS Dormitory Authority.  “Right now, our operators over at the dormitory authority are running around the state locking up locations so that they can be built out and designed for operators to step in to them before the end of the year,” Alexander says.

The Office of Cannabis Management plans to hand out nine of those licenses in the Finger Lakes Region during the first round.