BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York cannabis cultivators may have a partial solution to something they say they've been dealing with for months; not having enough places to sell the pot they grew over the past year.
The state Office of Cannabis Management's fledging market has only yielded 12 retail dispensaries statewide and the timeline for more to open their doors is uncertain.
But during a Thursday town hall hosted by the Cannabis Association of New York, state representatives said selling at farmers' markets should be possible within the coming weeks.
"This really came about because the retail landscape has really not been as robust as it was really set out to be and cultivators across the state grew a lot of cannabis in 2022," said Brittany Carbone, the Founder and CEO of TONIC CBD and a CANY Board Member.
CANY has been advocating on behalf of cultivators because as Carbone explained going into the 2023 growing season without any realized revenue is "problematic."
"For people who have not been able to see any revenue from the last season it's very difficult to be able to reinvest in this coming season and from the retailers' point of view there's been a lot of hold-ups," said Carbone.
While retailers, who got a license but have been unable to open a store are in a different position, Carbone said they too could benefit from having a farmers market to sell at before a brick-and-mortar store.
Aaron Vancamp is finishing his build-out at 501 Main Street in Buffalo, after receiving his CAURD license in April. Vancamp said he hopes to open the first legally licensed dispensary in Western New York in a couple of weeks.
The store will be named Dank.
"They want to roll out [farmers markets] within a month, so we should be here but for people the other retailers it will help them get some cash flow going and put some money in the farmers' pockets who really need it," Vancamp said.
While Vancamp said he was initially worried about cultivators being able to sell directly to the public, OCM Director of Policy John Kagia said the farmers market plan would maintain the state's two-tier system with cultivators and retailers partnering but not overlapping duties.
Kagia added that the guidelines, which are still being written will likely require local governments to sign off on cannabis sales in an outdoor market setting.
"This is obviously something that we're still working on it's a pilot but it's absolutely something we want to formalize down the line," said OCM Chief Equity Officer Damien Fagon.
Regardless of when the plans are finalized, both Carbone and Vancamp think markets will also provide something else that has existed sparing in the state's new licensed market.
"For cultivators to get out in front of their local community and consumers and make these relationships with the dispensary license holders in their area. There is long-term value in that," Carbone said.
Because if New York's cannabis market is to succeed, buy-in and trust will be important.