New York Legislature Sends Governor Bill to Permanently Legalize Marijuana Farmers Markets

Legislation to permanently legalize marijuana farmers markets in New York has been passed by the state’s legislature and sent to Governor Kathy Hochul.

(Photo credit: Ganjapreneur).

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Michelle Hinchey (D) in the Senate and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo (D) in the Assembly, would establish a permanent licensing process for cannabis showcase event permits. A cannabis showcase event “shall mean an event where licensee authorized to conduct retail sales of adult-use cannabis, cannabis products, and cannabis merchandise engages in the sale and showcase of such products away from the licensed premises in demonstrated partnership with a licensed New York state adult-use cannabis cultivator or processor, at showcase events located at farmers’ markets and public markets as defined in section two hundred sixty of the agriculture and markets law or similar such locations, as authorized by the office.

According to its official summary, the measure “provide the NYS Office of Cannabis Management with the authority to draft new regulations that will update and improve upon the regulatory structure of the successful Cannabis Growers Showcase program, which automatically sunset on January 1, 2024.”

According to the bill’s justification section, the “Office of Cannabis Management’s Cannabis Growers Showcase (CGS) program was created in 2023 to aid cannabis cultivators who had struggled with the lack of legal markets for their products. Thousands of pounds of unsold cannabis products resulted from litigation-related and other delays that enjoined the State from issuing retail dispensary licenses and prevented the opening of new dispensaries where the canna- bis could be sold.”

The CGS program was “a novel way to partner cultivators with dispensary licensees, so that they could educate the market about their offerings, sell their product, generate much needed income, and provide legal access to consumers who were too distant to legal dispensaries or who didn’t want to purchase their cannabis from illicit sources.”

As an experimental policy, the CGS program was designed to sunset on January 1, 2024, to allow the OCM to review the program’s successes, analyze issues and challenges, and use the lessons learned to inform the devel- opment of future event authorizations.

“By all accounts, the program was a success, bringing cultivators, processors, and retail licensees together in a way where they could directly interact with and educate consumers, build brand recognition, and orient consumers to the legal market’s offerings”, states the bill’s sponsors. “In all, the program approved 60 CGSs; 75 AUCCs, 19 AUCPs, and 12 CAURDs for a total of 106 licensees participating. Local municipalities, who had opted into retail sales, had also played a major role in approving and assisting operators in setting up the Showcases. There were no reports of problems in any of the localities where a CGS was held, ensuring that all stake- holders, including local law enforcement and State and local elected officials, saw the Showcases as a success and liked that they kept patrons out of the illegal shops.”

For the full text of the bill, click here.

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