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Adult use cannabis sales expanding across New York State

 Julian Smith, Director of Cultivation at Java Sprouts Farm
Jody Cowan
Julian Smith, Director of Cultivation at Java Sprouts Farm

With the legal marijuana business in New York ramping up, vendors and regulators alike are working overtime to prepare for what the state hopes will be an important new industry.

At this Capital Region networking forum hosted non-profit NY Small Farma, industry movers and shakers share information and participate in a grading process to compare purity and potency levels of the newly legalized adult use cannabis.

With a handful of stores already operating in New York City, shops upstate are also sprouting up.

As government regulations continue to become clearer, including updated oversight for market licensing, involved plant cultivators and dispensary business owners that have passed the first series of qualifications are eager to stock shelves, open doors, and start selling to customers who have been traveling across state lines for months.

Dan Mcpike, owner and head grower at Mcpike Farms, is excited to showcase what he’s hoping is one of the “cleanest” flowers in the state.

“We're more concerned with you know, microbial, heavy metals, anything that could be in the soil, you know, from the ground up, and then work on to the outside your terrapins and your profile the flower in itself. But to start off clean, and fresh, you know, and knowing what's coming into that plant is huge.”

Rules and regulations surrounding the sale of adult use cannabis, and the standards set to test plants poised for sale, have been handed down by the state Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board. The OCM is also responsible for issuing the various licenses required to participate in the legal cannabis market.

At a recent webinar hosted by the Upstate New York Poison Center, Layla Hunt, Deputy Director of Public Health and Campaigns for OCM, touted the number of licenses currently awarded to invested groups.

“We've set up this conditional licensure structure. And we have 279 licensed cultivators, the first cultivators that were allowed to enter into the market were those that have previously been growing hemp in New York State. And then we have 40 licensed cannabis processors. These are the individuals that are really making the cannabis brands that you'll see lining the shelves. We'll see there's 58 qualifying businesses under our conditional adult use retail dispensary program, and eight nonprofits that each have been awarded a license for a conditional adult use retail dispensary license. And what that means is ultimately these individuals are in the process of getting approval from the state and now opening their doors.”

At the beginning of March, the OCM announced it would double the number of planned Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) Licenses from 150 to 300. Qualifying CAURD license holders were chosen based on their legacy business history outside of the cannabis industry and the inclusion of “justice involved” individuals on the owning or operating staff.

The guidelines are meant to support the individuals and communities most negatively affected by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition in the past.

Josh Mirsky, manager and license holder for the Stage One Dispensary in Rensselaer, says they are just a few short months away from starting sales.

“We currently are doing our buildout. We have our application in with the OCM. Once our banking is finished and approved, and we have our account, we can apply for our certificate of authority to collect sales tax on behalf in New York State because we also plan on selling non cannabis items. And you need any need to do that. Like you know, papers, bongs apparel, T shirts, things like that. We hope to be delivering by May and doors open sometime in June. So, we're very close.”

Excited to both have customers in the store and to provide a refined, specialized, craft product, Mirsky says the region has the potential to produce the best cannabis anywhere.

“There's been a lot of cannabis grown in upstate New York for a very long time. You know, Haze is a strain that comes to mind. Sour Diesel is another strain that comes to mind that are from New York and people love and will have stood the test of time and are sought after and the genetics are hard to come by for both of those strains right now. So I think that New York, now that we don't have to hide in the shadows while cultivating our strains and creating our genetics, I think New York is going to create some of the best genetics in the game.”

One of the newest additions to the WAMC team, Jody Cowan has a naturally curious approach to media production and strong passion for story telling. Jody's work is currently showcased on the shows 51% and The Best of Our Knowledge.