New York has $750m worth of cannabis stockpiled that growers can’t sell | New York

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A strong smell of weed hangs over many New York neighborhoods, the result in part of cannabis decriminalization in 2019 – but cannabis growers in the state are at an impasse when it comes to getting their crops to market.

Almost 300,000 pounds of the drug, worth as much as $750m, from last summer’s production at 200 state-licensed farms are stockpiled, without a place to be sold and in danger of deteriorating, according to a Bloomberg report on Saturday.

Distribution issues are to blame. Although the New York City has vape shops selling marijuana and CBD products on almost every street, and there are mobile weed vans on Times Square, New York’s office of cannabis management has yet to approve retail dispensaries.

Not one legal recreational dispensary has opened. Last week, a federal judge handed down an injunction that blocked the state from handing out licenses in Brooklyn and areas of the Hudson Valley region after a lawsuit claimed that the state’s cannabis equity program violates the US constitution.

Under the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary program, or CAURD, people who are “justice-involved individuals”, or people with prior marijuana-related offenses, or their family members, are prioritized for licenses if they have experience owning and operating a business. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim the prioritizations are discriminatory.

State cannabis officials have not indicated how many dispensing licenses will be considered at a control board meeting scheduled for next week. But the number could be 150.

Without dispensaries, New York producers are for the moment stuck with newly harvested mountains of stock. “It’s an unclear path to market,” said Melany Dobson of Hudson Cannabis, a farm two hours north of New York City.

Dobson advised that cannabis left exposed to air, light and warmer temperatures can begin to break down and lose potency. “Old cannabis starts to have a brownish glow,” she said.

If restrictions on New York state dispensaries are lifted, and prices hold up at about $2,500 a pound wholesale, the market could be worth $1.3bn in sales in New York City alone next year, according to a statement in August from the mayor’s office.

“The regulated adult-use cannabis industry is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our underserved communities that have, for too long, faced disproportionate rates of drug-related incarceration to get in on the industry on the ground floor,” said the mayor, Eric Adams. “This is about creating good jobs, successful small businesses, and finally delivering equity to communities harmed by the war on drugs.”

Cannabis management office spokesperson Aaron Ghitelman said “the goal is to open dispensaries by the end of this year” and it was “still gunning to get the first sales on board” by 2023.



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