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NY Senate Probes Slow Cannabis Rollout, Farmers Left Stranded

Challenges for farmers and retailers persist amid delayed progress and regulatory hurdles.




“The rollout of the New York cannabis market has been beyond difficult for our upstate NY farm.” – Tessa Williams, Empire Farm

On Monday, a New York State Senate subcommittee on cannabis met to voice their concerns about the slow rollout of the legalized marijuana market, highlighting the financial stress it’s causing local farmers and retailers.

In the nearly two-and-a-half years since adult-use recreational marijuana became legalized in New York, the state only has 27 legal dispensaries open of more than 460 retail licenses issued to business owners. In fact, numerous districts in a state of close to 20 million residents still have no dispensaries at all.

Sen. James Skoufis highlighted the prolonged delays, stating, “Most, if not almost all the stakeholders that I’ve interacted with, they have viewed the rollout over the 943 days as challenging, to put it kindly, if not unsuccessful or a failure.”

Chris Alexander, the Office of Cannabis Management’s Executive Director, acknowledged the slow progress and the associated difficulties faced by farmers, saying, “We still have a long way to go before we can claim that the supply chain is functioning as intended.” The prevalence of illegal cannabis stores, still numbering over a thousand statewide months since crackdowns began, also garnered attention during the hearing.

Sen. Michelle Hinchey also voiced her concern for the farmers, emphasizing the lack of immediate solutions; more stores in the future won’t necessarily help the 2022 crops that every single day loses value. And while the Cannabis Showcases, NY’s version of weed farmers markets, have helped, it’s not enough.

“We’ve been begging for support to effectively very little response,” Hinchey said.


According to one farmer, the showcases are a drop in the bucket for what they need to help continue without going under.

“The Showcases have created desperately needed cash flow, and we are happy for the brand exposure, but after accounting for the expenses associated with the Showcases, we are barely making any money, and sometimes we’re negative,” Tessa Williams of Empire Farm in Copake told Global Cannabis Times.

The costs associated with participating in the Showcases are significantly higher than distribution fees, and the staffing demands are often difficult to meet.

“This entire process has been nothing short of painful with evolving direction and regulations from NYS, and nearly impossible to get to the starting line for a successful start-up,” added Williams.



Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified

Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.

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