Home cultivation rules for medical cannabis move forward

ALBANY — Seven years after New York passed its law permitting medical cannabis, certified patients will soon be allowed to grow plants at home, following regulations announced in the second-ever Cannabis Control Board meeting Thursday afternoon. 

The state’s 150,695 patients have, up until now, been required to purchase their product from one of ten suppliers that obtained licenses from the state Department of Health in a competitive bidding process. 

Now, New Yorkers have 60 days to comment on the home-grow regulations before they take effect. 

Sen. Diane Savino, who sponsored the initial medical cannabis bill and has been a key proponent of its therapeutic uses, said the lack of legal home-grow options has been a “long-standing issue for certified patients and their caregivers.”

“The draft regulations clearly lay out a program that will allow limited home cultivation in a safe manner, preventing diversion and abuse and allowing patients and caregivers who may be far from existing dispensaries the ability to manage their use,” Savino said in a statement. 

The guidelines, which will permit up to three mature and three immature plants per patient, were announced only a month after Gov. Kathy Hochul put forward her final nominees to complete the five-person Cannabis Control Board, a panel designed to oversee the  industry’s new regulatory agency known as the Office of Cannabis Management. 

The board members, led by chair Tremaine Wright, have moved rapidly to approve agency staffing decisions and medical cannabis program changes such as initiating the sale of whole flower. On Thursday, they also heard an update about the criminal justice milestones which were built into the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

But after long delays over the spring and summer in the nomination process for board and agency leadership, including the roles now held by Wright and agency lead Christopher Alexander, the state missed its own deadline for this initial set of regulations, which were meant to be issued at the end of September. 

Now that they are on the table, the draft regulations were met with unanimous approval from the board on Thursday. Once they take effect, the new rules are expected to allow patients or their caregivers to grow cannabis either indoors or outdoors, provided their plants are in a secure location that is inaccessible to anyone under the age of 21. 

Alexander cautioned in the meeting that initially, home grown cannabis will be restricted to certified medical patients.

“I want to be very clear,” he said, “the unlicensed sale or trading of cannabis is prohibited in New York, and home grow is not a license to do either.” 

There are not yet any recreational-use growers or sellers authorized by the state.


Christin Hakim

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