Hinchey backs bill to get cannabis growing; Tague votes against the measure
Paul Kirby reports in the Daily Freeman that even if retail sales of cannabis in New York are more than a year away, farmers may begin growing the plant soon. New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat from Saugerties, sponsored a bill that passed that authorizes the Office of Cannabis Management to issue conditional cannabis cultivator and processor licenses to existing hemp growers to “ensure that when dispensaries open, a variety of New York products can enter the marketplace on day one of retail sales,” Hinchey’s office said in a statement. These conditional licenses will expire on June 30, 2024, when all the state regulations should be in place, and retail sales should be throughout the state. “Last year, with the historic passage of the (new marijuana laws), New York set the foundation for a legal cannabis industry predicated on social equity, inclusion, and ensuring that economic success stays local,” Hinchey said in a statement. There is a Social Equity Mentorship Program to provide emerging social and economic equity cultivators and processors, included in the temporary measure. "Our existing hemp growers, who have been some of the hardest hit by market fluctuations, already have the knowledge base to meet this need, and I’m proud to sponsor legislation to help them obtain conditional licenses, which will allow New York to implement its cannabis program faster," Hinchey said in a statement. Hinchey's 46th Senate District includes Greene County. Assemblyperson Chris Tague, a Republican from Schoharie who also represents Greene County, voted against the bill. Tague’s office said the measure would “implement a requirement for those seeking temporary adult-use cannabis cultivation and processing licenses to unionize their labor force, (and he is) speaking out against the financial burden such a requirement would put on farmers who have already been subjected to a flurry of costly new mandates and regulations in recent years.” Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.