Stone Slade, High at 9 News
Date: June 7, 2023
The slow opening of licensed adult-use dispensaries in New York has created the urgent need for an alternative marketplace. The New York Office of Cannabis Management is exploring the possibility of permitting cannabis farmers to sell their products at farmers markets, and possibly concerts and festivals. Rules are still being drafted, but cultivators would also have to partner with a licensed retailer to participate.
Statewide, millions of dollars of product remain unsold, getting drier by the day, including 1,200 pounds of flower grown by Joann Kudrewicz. In frustration, Kudrewicz voiced her concerns, saying, "All of what we were planning to sell is sitting in inventory. We have not had an outlet. We are not on the shelves anywhere." Despite their efforts, cannabis farmers like Kudrewicz are facing significant challenges in finding a way to sell their products.
Hassina Sadara, a resident of the East Village, shares her perspective, stating, "Hey, I don't think it's much different than selling fruits and vegetables." She suggests that treating cannabis like any other agricultural product could be a viable solution.
While this program aims to address the concerns of farmers, legal experts highlight the complexities involved in its execution. Many municipalities are not receptive to the idea of cannabis retail stores, making it difficult to find suitable locations. Lauren Reddick, a cannabis lawyer, emphasizes the logistical challenges, particularly related to security and space. Reddick states, "Not a lot of landlords or open spaces are willing to accommodate this first-of-its-kind opportunity."
Despite the controversy surrounding this proposal, growers across New York assert that it is crucial for their survival. The slow rollout of licensed adut-use dispensaries has left them with a limited number of buyers. The Office of Cannabis Management acknowledges the growing momentum for increased retail demand. Currently, twelve dispensaries are operational, with another dozen in the final stages of opening.
The program allowing cannabis farmers to sell their products at farmers markets could begin as early as within the month. However, the implementation process will require careful consideration and collaboration with various stakeholders to address the logistical and regulatory challenges ahead.
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Regulations have made it difficult to sell cannabis in New York -- so much so that farmers have been left with hundreds of thousands of pounds of unsold product.
But a budding idea to bring marijuana to farmer's markets is gaining traction.
At your local market this summer, next to the fresh baked goods and organic vegetables, you might also find cannabis.
Concerts and festivals could start carrying it, too.
"I have very mixed feeling about selling grass," said Jean Standish of the East Village.
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"I don't think it's that much different from selling fruits and vegetables," added Hassina Sadara of the East Village.
Controversial as the idea may be, growers across New York say it's necessary for their survival. The state's slow opening of licensed recreational dispensaries has meant a lack of buyers for farmers.
Statewide, millions of dollars of product remain unsold, including 1,200 pounds of flower grown by Joann Kudrewicz.
"All of what we were planning to sell is sitting in inventory. We have not had an outlet. We are not on the shelves anywhere," Kudrewicz said.
The state Office of Cannabis Management floated the farmer's market solution to growers at a virtual meeting last week. Rules are still being drafted, but cultivators would have to partner with a licensed retailer.
The program could start within the month.
"We are already seeing very strong tourism numbers for New York this year. What a great opportunity to showcase this budding industry to tourists and New Yorkers in the places they are going to be," said John Kagia of the Office of Cannabis Management.
However, legal experts say execution is not as easy as it seems. Many municipalities do not welcome cannabis retail stores.
"Logistically, there are some very obvious challenges. Security, first and foremost. Space. Not a lot of landlords, not a lot of open spaces are willing to accommodate this first-of-its-kind opportunity," cannabis lawyer Lauren Rudick said.
The Office of Cannabis Management says momentum is building for more retail demand as well. Twelve dispensaries are currently operational and another dozen are in the final stages of opening.