New York’s Office of Cannabis Management finally announced the 36 recipients of the state’s first retail licenses, and the future of the city’s legal weed market includes recognizable names such as Housing Works alongside individuals with a history of cannabis-related convictions. It’s midway through November, but the state has continually said the goal is to have retail shops up and running by the end of the year. Any movement is likely welcome news for farmers across the state who are dealing with a big problem: having too much weed.
As Bloomberg reported, New York is simply chock full of weed right now. Farmers are sitting on an estimated 300,000 pounds of cannabis — worth $750 million — that they grew last spring but can’t sell because legal retail shops have not yet opened. (Our lawless weed bodegas don’t count.) State regulators, which handed out growing licenses last spring, insisted the retail market would be up and running by the end of the year with the OCM prioritizing applicants who were convicted of cannabis-related offenses prior to legalization or are relatives of those convicted. But as of November, no legal dispensaries have opened. (An OCM spokesperson said it’s still looking to open retail stores by the end of the year and is “gunning to get the first sales onboard” by 2023.)
Furthering the weed-stockpile situation is a legal case unfolding in federal court: Last week, a judge issued a temporary stay preventing the OCM from issuing retail licenses in places including Brooklyn, the Finger Lakes, and the Mid-Hudson region. (The pending lawsuit claims the current requirements violate constitutional interstate-commerce protections.) In the meantime, farmers who can’t sell their product in other states told Bloomberg they’re struggling to keep their weed fresh as they wait on an uncertain timeline. But if something must be done, not to worry — I’ll take care of it.