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Gov. Hochul signs law allowing cannabis growers to apply for cultivation licenses

The NNYS Office of Cannabis Management says they are working on setting up the applications as quickly as possible & expect to have licensing open in March.

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. — New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a bill into law that will provide temporary cultivation licenses to cannabis growers who will plant the seeds for recreational marijuana.  

The state's Office for Cannabis Management says they're working on the application "as quickly as possible" to have licensing open in March.

Four years ago, Wheatfield Gardens in North Tonawanda added hemp seeds for CBD products to the greenhouse as part of a state hemp research pilot program. 

Now CEO Paal Elfstrum says he's excited for the opportunities lying ahead with this new law. 

"We are immediately ready here. We just need the details to emerge from the Office of Cannabis Management, specifically around security," Elfstrum said. 

Elfstrum says Wheatfield Gardens meets all the requirements for growers. 

The state says growers must participate in a social equity program and only grow cannabis in a 25,000 square foot space in a greenhouse, or on one acre outdoors. 

And there's more. 

"In order to qualify for the conditional license, you would have had to a cultivation processing license under New York's existing hemp program. You would have also had to grow or process hemp for two of the last four years and you have to begin operations in six months," said Ryan Stearns, attorney at Lippes Mathias.

Elfstrum says most farmers who can only grow outside must do so by spring to get a harvest by fall. 

Once growers are granted their cultivation licenses, Elfstrum says it'll only help the cannabis market here.  

"People are contacting us on the daily, coming back from Colorado and California to really be part of this Western New York cannabis business. There's a thriving, grey market here in Western New York for cannabis," Elfstrum said. 

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