How New York’s New Marijuana Law Plants Seeds of Fairness
Hundreds of people packed into Union Square for a rally advocating the legalization of recreational marijuana use on May 4, 2019.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed a law legalizing recreational marijuana in New York — baking in an ambitious social justice plan to give populations targeted by never-ending drug wars a piece of the potentially lucrative action.
The historic law, the culmination of drawn-out, fierce negotiations in Albany, will allow people to possess up to three ounces of pot and grow a limited amount of cannabis at home. The measure also will expunge the convictions of people whose offenses wouldn’t have been crimes under the new law.
But the law’s centerpiece is a set of social equity provisions that should pour 40% of tax revenues from legal weed sales into communities long-devastated by over-policing and offer marijuana business opportunities to traditionally underrepresented groups.
New York, which became the 15th state to fully legalize recreational marijuana, hopes to succeed where some others have failed in bringing fairness to the industry — even as a new Office of Cannabis Management and a Cannabis Control Board carries a whiff of bureaucracy.
Here’s a guide to the law’s attempt at equity:
Who Qualifies as a ‘Social Equity Applicant’?
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) sets a goal of giving half of all sales licenses to those who qualify as “social equity applicants.”
- Women-owned businesses
- Businesses owned by people of color
- Minority or Women Owned Business Enterprises, defined as a business in which women and/or people of color own at least 51% of the company
- Small farm operators in financial hardship or farms operated by someone in an underrepresented demographic
- Service-disabled veterans
- People from areas negatively affected by past cannabis prohibition
Applicants who fit one or more of those categories will be given additional priority if they:
- Make 80% or less of their county’s median income. In the case of New York City, 80% of median income is $63,680.
- Come from an area disproportionately impacted by past enforcement of cannabis laws
- Were convicted of a marijuana-related offense before the bill was signed into law
What Services Will be Offered to Social Equity Candidates?
New York State’s Urban Development Corporation will receive additional funding to provide assistance to social equity applicants — including creating a small business incubator that will dole out low- and no-interest loans to help pay for start-up costs.
“That’s the big missing piece of the puzzle that we haven’t seen in other states,” said Melissa Moore, the Drug Policy Alliance’s New York director.
The CITIVA Dispensary across from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, May 2, 2020.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY
“You can do priority licensing for social equity, but if there isn’t an avenue for people to be able to access capital it becomes a moot point because of federal prohibition it’s just about impossible for people to access the normal type of small business loans that would generally be available,” she added.
Nathaniel Gurien, CEO of a Manhattan-based cannabis consulting firm, told THE CITY the incubator, which will give financial advice to applicants, is crucial to the success of social equity efforts.
Gurien said the educational component could help everyday New Yorkers who may want to use existing skills to pivot to legal pot sales.
“Like in Times Square, you have all these tour bus hawkers,” said Gurien. “Some of those guys who may live in The Bronx and qualify for minority equity licenses, they can get a decent low-interest loan from one of these business development [agencies] with cannabis-related funds.”
How Will Underserved Communities Benefit?
The combined tax revenue on cannabis products, expected to eventually yield $350 million annually, will fund the planned Office of Cannabis Management and other agencies that have new responsibilities under the law, including the Office of Court Administration, state police and the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
About 40% of the remaining money will go to the Community Grants Reinvestment Fund. Qualified community organizations and local government agencies can apply for grants to help areas that were disproportionately affected by federal and state policies surrounding marijuana.
In New York City, this likely means that the next mayor will play a large role in how some of the money is spent.
Approved uses include: job placement programs and skills training, adult education services, mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
Also on the list: housing, financial literacy, community banking, nutrition services, after school and child care services and legal help for formerly incarcerated people.
License applicants who put forward plans that include community benefits and ways to help people impacted by the drug wars are to be given additional preference as well.
Susanna Short, a spokesperson for a Massachusetts dispensary called Mayflower, told THE CITY that pushing businesses to do their part to uplift neighborhoods has led to stronger community ties. There, Mayflower has created community gardens, hosted skills seminars and launched a fellowship program.
“It’s not a matter of compliance, it’s a true commitment,” Short said.
What Type of Licenses Can Eligible Applicants Apply For?
The MRTA allows for nine different licenses and permits that pot entrepreneurs can eventually apply for:
- Cultivator licenses, for people who want to go grow cannabis
- Processor licenses, for people who want to turn cannabis into other products, like edibles, concentrates and tinctures
- Distributor licenses, for people who want to distribute wholesale products from processors to licensed retail businesses
- Dispensary licenses, for people who want to directly sell cannabis products to the public
- On-site consumption licenses, for people who want to sell marijuana and provide space for customers to use cannabis products
- Cooperative licenses, for groups of people who want to cultivate, grow and process cannabis
- Nursery licenses, for people who want to sell baby-marijuana plants that haven’t flowered yet to other licensed pot businesses
- Delivery licenses, for businesses that want to provide delivery services in addition to their retail services
- Microbusiness licenses, for people who want to cultivate, produce and retail cannabis products with tight size limitations.
How Can Social Equity Applicants Apply for a License?
The short answer is we don’t know yet. The law doesn’t outline when the Office of Cannabis Management will open or when members of the Cannabis Control Board — a group of five individuals chosen by the governor and the state Legislature that will oversee the new agency — will be in place.
That being said, marijuana dispensaries could open by April 1, 2022. So Cuomo and the state Legislature will have to pick members of the control board within the next few months to get the bureaucracy going.
When Will Records Be Expunged?
The act is short on details and Cuomo’s press office didn’t respond to questions. But the legislation sets forth a timeline of expunging records within two years after the bill’s signing.
The new law builds on one the legislature passed in 2019. It now will provide for an expanded expungement of convictions for marijuana or concentrated cannabis offenses.
So When Will We Be Able to Buy Legal Pot?
The bill has set April 1, 2022 as the first day that New Yorkers can buy recreational weed. And because New York State is allowing medical marijuana shops to partially integrate into the recreational market, there are already a handful of operations that should be ready by that time.
Cannabis Seeds in New York
Can you buy marijuana seeds in New York? New York state legalized medical marijuana in 2014, creating the pathway for less strict rules.
In 2019, it then decriminalized weed for recreational use, another massive step to legalization.
Finally, New Yorkers can celebrate because, as of March 2021, recreational weed is legal within the borders.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into a law, which immediately made marijuana permitted to possess under some conditions.
That being said, you can’t go out to buy or sell just yet. The state needs time to set up dispensaries that are governed and licensed.
Want to know more about the new rules and regulations for legal cannabis in New York? Continue reading this article for everything you need to know.
Is it legal to buy and grow marijuana seeds in New York?
Is weed legal in New York ? Yes. As of March 2021, buying and growing cannabis seeds in New York is legal throughout the state.
You must be 21 years or older to use cannabis products without a fine legally. New Yorkers can now have up to 3 ounces of marijuana or 24 grams of the concentrated substance. You can possess up to 5 pounds of pot at home, but you must store it in a locked or secure area.
The law permits you to smoke anywhere you can smoke tobacco. It’s illegal to consume marijuana in schools, at work, or inside a car.
Those in New York will be able to buy legal marijuana at dispensaries once they’re up and running. This will take some time because officials need to make rules on things like licensing, regulating, taxing, and delivery services.
You can expect by the end of this year or early 2022, the first New York dispensaries will open. It could take longer, but officials are aiming to get it done as soon as possible.
It will be legal to grow marijuana seeds in New York at home 18 months after the first dispensary opens. You’ll be allowed six plants per adult, with a maximum of 12 plants per household. Indoor and outdoor growing will be legal, but you’ll have to wait before planting any marijuana seeds in New York.
Should you grow weed indoors or outdoors in New York?
Once recreational home growing is legal, New Yorkers will have their crops on private property. There’ve only been a few rules stated at this time, but it’s likely in the future, they’ll be more straightforward and more specific outlines.
New York is located in the northeast part of the United States. It’s much bigger than just the Big Apple, and the climate can be different depending on where you live in the state. We’re going to take a closer look at the environment for growing marijuana seeds in New York .
New York has four distinct seasons with below-freezing winters and hot, humid summers. The spring and fall are very inconsistent. When you move further north, the temperatures are even colder.
If you’re in the southern part of New York, you can grow outdoors or indoors. By late May, the climate is warm, rarely going below freezing. There’s a good humidity level throughout the summer, which is what marijuana plants like.
You should continuously be checking your harvest to look for diseases, still water, or mold from humidity. If you’re by the ocean, the coastal breeze will help with ventilation, but it might be a problem in the city.
It’s best to grow weed inside when it becomes legal if you’re in upstate New York because marijuana plants can’t develop well in the cold. You’ll be able to regulate the climate better indoors with a heating system and humidifier.
If the temperature drops suddenly outside, your cannabis crops will stay safe and continue improving without harm.
Best strains to grow in New York
Parts of the Incredible Hulk occur in New York City, making the Auto Bruce Banner Fem seeds perfect for you to grow. The autoflower seeds don’t need constant light to produce, making them excellent for outdoor or indoor growing where the weather is inconsistent.
New York is known for its delicious bagels, and what’s the best topping to a fresh one? The Auto Critical x Cream Cheese Fem seeds will go great with your breakfast.
This strain is also autoflowering, and you can harvest it all year round. It’s great for indoor growing and is suitable for first-time marijuana growers.
Many get rich on Wall Street and other parts of New York, and you can feel that luxury with the 24K Gold Fem seeds .
It’s one of the best and sought-after strains out there. There’s a high THC seed level, and it is mostly Indica. This strain is mold resistant, so in humid August, you don’t have to worry about the health of your marijuana plant.
Where to buy cannabis seeds in New York
When dispensaries open, you’ll be allowed to purchase cannabis seed there legally. You’ll be able to buy marijuana seeds online in New York at regulated sites like I49 Genetics .
Remember, although recreational weed is now legal, to grow right now is still limited. You have to wait until 18 months after the first dispensary opens. You can buy weed seeds in New York and have them in your possession but can’t harvest them until a later date.
Cannabis in New York in the future
We’re going to see a lot of changes in the Empire state in 2021 with New York cannabis seeds and products . It became legal, and now people are working on getting dispensaries started. Once this begins, smoking lounges, public outings, growing clubs, and more will hopefully emerge.
You can feel confident about smoking marijuana without having legal troubles. While growing weed is still not allowed, it will be soon.
For now, do your research and look into what marijuana seeds in New York to buy, other equipment, methods, and techniques, so when you can start planting, you’ll be prepared. Until then, enjoy consuming legally and watch for a dispensary or online store to open up.