US (NY): Farm owners prepare to grow the state's first adult-use cannabis plants

As the Northeast shakes off – hopefully — the last of the winter weather, 52 New York farmers are gearing up to produce the state’s first adult-use cannabis plants.

On an overcast April morning, Nightshade Farm owner Phil Spinelli is pushing open the large doors of an empty greenhouse. With the air still chilly following 6 inches of snow the farm got days before, it’s already warmer inside the plastic-covered room with cement floors.

“We are still in the planning phase. It'll take us a few weeks to come online, but every day we make leaps and bounds," he said. "This is agriculture at the end of the day, as far as I'm concerned. And so there's just the planting and the field work - that's the fun part. There’s a lot of setup to that and a lot of planning, so that's really what we are focusing on now.”

New York had been slowly moving towards legalization in recent years. Like a lot of other legislation, the legalization movement stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic until it passed last year. Spinelli says it was largely received as good news for farmers. “It’s front and center for everyone. And so, yes, sure, we're in contact with lots of farms and I think everyone's excited to have a chance to become part of this program.”

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