What is the hold up in the NYS cannabis industry?

June 12, 2023

When New York announced that they were legalizing and allowing recreational cannabis, farmers statewide were ready and excited to enter this flourishing community. With the potential to be the nation’s second-largest cannabis market after California, many were eager to invest everything to get their piece of the pie. Many farmers did not anticipate the numerous delays in what was promised to be a lucrative industry. As of June 1, 2023, over 250 cannabis farms are sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars of unsold products. With only about a dozen dispensaries or delivery services currently available, many haven’t seen a single dollar in sales. Each dispensary can only carry so many brands and products, so Juniper Jill is extremely lucky to be available at 3 locations/delivery services. Some farms have not even had the opportunity to showcase their hard work. So what happens now? What do these farms do now that they do not have any profits to invest in this season’s growth? What’s behind the hold-up?

This time last year was full of hope with the beginning of new adventures for many small local farmers. Many had invested everything they had into what was supposed to be a bustling and profitable business. Cut to today, some farms have nothing but debt and unsold products to show for their investments. Instead of legal dispensaries popping up, illegal smoke shops selling products behind counters are becoming more and more common. People are getting desperate and need to make their money somehow. There are a few reasons that the industry is at a standstill and a few things are in the works to relieve the struggling farmers.

A big problem was the institution of the CAURD licensing. What was supposed to give those who have a checkered past with cannabis a leg up in the industry has instead blocked a larger group of possible candidates for dispensary licensing. While the CAURD program was well-meaning, allowing everyone to apply regardless of background would have given more opportunities to a much broader group of people. Many minority groups who are supposedly the focus of the CAURD license are excluded because they do NOT have a drug conviction.

Another big issue is the NYS Social Equality Cannabis Investment Fund and the State Dormitory Authority has been a flop since its rollout. What was supposed to provide dispensary owners with much-needed capital to stock and open dispensaries has been full of major conflicts of interest and financial arrangements that are a disadvantage to borrowers. With unclear terms and the understanding that the funding essentially puts the NYSECIF in full control of the business, many are hesitant to put their work in someone else’s hands.

New York farmers are not just sitting back and taking what the State is giving them. In March, a lawsuit was filed arguing that State cannabis regulators were overstepping their legal authority by only opening applications to those with a past drug conviction.  Bill A6593 was created in April 2023 to allow farmers to sell their products from their farms until September 2023. The bill has been making its way its way through the assembly but seems to be stalled. While results were due by June 2, we are still unclear and awaiting answers.

What has been announced recently is Cannabis Farmer’s Markets have been given the green light. These events would be considered a “showcase” where you can purchase cannabis, but you cannot consume it on-site. Hopefully, this would allow for the sale of cannabis at farmer’s markets, concerts, fairs, and other outdoor events where municipal approval can be obtained. As with most other plans for the industry, we are STILL waiting for guidelines. The few details shared have already been a bit of a gut punch, as each farm must team up with at least THREE other farms and one licensed retailer, but not in a store-front setting. The OCM hopes to see this up and running by July, so we will have to wait with bated breaths to see if this comes to fruition. As for regulations and how to sell and tax products sold in these markets, we are still waiting for guidance to be released. Hopefully, information will be shared soon so we can take advantage of as much of the summer months to do so.

Read more about Cannabis Farmer’s Markets here.

As always, we will be the first to update you on breaking news or industry updates. We hope that we have some amazing news to share with you very shortly about more opportunities to get your hands on our products. Until then, you can find our products at Upstate Canna Co., Good Grades NYC, and through Legacy Dispensers.

Must be 21+. Please consume responsibly.