New York’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) held its second meeting on October 21, 2021. The meeting covered proposed medical home cultivation rules, staffing recommendations for the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), and a few updates from OCM. A video of the meeting has been made available by the New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association.
Medical Home Cultivation
According to Chairperson Tremaine Wright, the CCB has prioritized medical home cultivation regulations and draft rules should be available on the OCM website. Here are some highlights from the meeting:
- The proposed rules will apply only to certified medical cannabis patients and their caregivers. These rules will not authorize adult-use or recreational home cultivation, which the CCB will address later.
- Qualifying patients looking to cultivate at home must be over the age of 21 and may not grow more than six plants: three mature and three immature. These are statutory limits, set by the Marijuana Recreation & Taxation Act (MRTA).
- Designated caregivers may cultivate on behalf of patients.
- There can be a total of 12 plants in one household, even if more than two qualifying patients live there.
- Patients cannot process cannabis using butane or other dangerous processing chemicals or solutions.
- Landlords cannot prevent a tenant from participating in New York’s medical cannabis program, but they can limit the ability to cultivate medical cannabis in a lease agreement.
Once published, the proposed medical cultivation rules will be subject to public comment for 60 days. The OCM will then review comments and revise the rules as they see fit. After that, the rules will be final and medical home cultivation in New York will be legal.
In my view, the fact that OCM and CCB are prioritizing medical regulations ahead of adult-use regulations may extend the timeline for adult-use cannabis. After all, New York regulators must follow the same process when proposing adult-use regulations (including the 60-day notice and comment period) unless they use emergency rulemaking authority. This means that the adult-use program may not be up and running until 2023. However, many things could change the adult-use timeline. It’s possible that CCB is prioritizing medical home cultivation but will prioritize adult-use cannabis rules going forward.
On that note, the Chair made a point to remind listeners that there is not currently a legal market for adult-use cannabis. Any cannabis sold outside of the already established medical program is unregulated. She stated that any unlicensed dispensaries can face “severe financial penalties.”
The Chair reminded listeners that it is lawful to gift cannabis, but it is unlawful to exchange cannabis. Even cannabis lawfully grown by a qualified patient cannot be for sold, traded, or linked to another transaction (e.g., requiring a person to pay for another item to get “gifted” cannabis).
The OCM has recommended to the CCB 21 high-level employees. The individual applicants were not named in the meeting. This is an encouraging development. It will take a lot of work to get New York’s cannabis industry off the ground and OCM will need a full staff to do so.
OCM Executive Director Chris Alexander provided an Expungement & Criminal Justice Report. One of the main goals of MRTA is harm reduction. Alexander stated that “approximately 203,000 Marijuana related charges are presently being suppressed from criminal background searches and in process to be sealed or expunged. This will add to the approximately 198,000 sealings accomplished [during] the first part of the first round of marijuana expungement from the 2019 expungement legislation.”
CCB meetings are an important part of implementing MRTA. If you are interested in participating in New York’s legal cannabis industry, I recommend watching these meetings. And be sure to visit the Green Light Law Blog for breaking coverage of all things New York cannabis.
You can contact Daniel Shortt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-430-1336.