Farmers who received conditional licenses to cultivate the first crops for New York’s retail cannabis market are sitting on thousands of pounds of product they grew last year but have been unable to sell, in part, because of the state’s languishing rollout of the industry.
The situation has been exacerbated by a federal injunction that for months had temporarily suspended retail cannabis licensing in five of the state’s 14 regions. That court order, which has been modified to suspend retail licensing only in the Fingers Lakes region, was issued in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a company part-owned by a Michigan man who is challenging the constitutionality of New York’s conditional licensing system, which prioritizes in-state residents.
Still, statewide there are just 12 retail operators — far fewer than the marketplace needed to support hundreds of cannabis farmers. Last year, more than 200 licensed cultivators grew cannabis in New York, and about 80 of those farms produced “significant” amounts of cannabis — roughly 300,000 pounds.
“New York has prioritized equity and opportunity, opening our cannabis market with independent operators, the type of farmers who have been shut out of other state’s markets,” said Aaron Ghitelman, a spokesman for the state Office of Cannabis Management.
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