BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New York’s Office of Cannabis Management says legal weed sales generated over $70 million through late August of this year. But for many cultivators and business owners trying to break through in the state’s budding industry, a series of false starts and regulatory holdups have left them confused and frustrated.
“There’s a lot of confusion right now in the state’s cannabis industry among the people who are looking for licenses, and the ancillary businesses as well, from the attorneys to the real estate agents,” Brad Racino, editor of NY Cannabis Insider, said.
The OCM today granted final approval of the state’s regulations for adult-use cannabis. The move will allow more individuals and small businesses to apply for cultivator, processor, distributor, microbusiness, and retail dispensary licenses beginning on Oct. 4. This comes after significant delays and changes to the original timeline laid out by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, who had at one point pledged to open 20 dispensaries in the state by Jan. 1.
At a public comment portion of a meeting held by the Cannabis Control Board Tuesday morning, some businesspeople were brought to tears, pleading with the state to move the process along faster so that they can begin to make money off of the crops that they’ve spent months, if not years, cultivating.
Racino pointed out that New York is unique among other states that have rolled out legal weed: the state is prioritizing social equity and working to ensure licenses are given to business owners who were impacted by prohibition, including prioritizing access to those formerly incarcerated on possession charges.
“However, the people who it’s directly affecting … the farmers, the dispensary owners, the processors, everyone in this industry — I don’t even know if there’s a word to say how bad things are for them,” Racino said.
Racino and NY Cannabis Industry are involved in producing a summit coming to Buffalo on Sept. 21 aimed at addressing those farmers’ and dispensary owners’ confusion and getting them some answers about the current state of the industry.
The “State of the Cannabis Industry” summit will be held at Pear Street Grill & Brewery from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 21. Tickets are still on sale at $195. More information on the conference can be found here.
Racino joined News 4 at 4 to talk about the upcoming summit and give his thoughts on the current state of the rollout. You can watch the full interview in the video player above.
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.