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Cultivating marijuana plants at home for personal use will become legal in New York this spring — more than three years after the state legalized recreational marijuana.

While the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act, signed into law by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 31, 2021, legalized limited home cultivation of marijuana for personal use, the law did not allow home-growing until the Cannabis Control Board adopted regulations authorizing it.  

Home-grow regulations were approved by the Cannabis Control Board at its meeting Friday. But the regulations will not take effect until after a 60-day comment period, which will begin with publication of the proposed regulations in the N.Y. State Register. 

Under the 2021 law and the proposed regulations approved Friday, New Yorkers over the age of 21 will be authorized to:

  • Cultivate a maximum of three mature and three immature cannabis plants per person; with a maximum of six mature plants and six immature plants per private residence; 
  • Possess up to five pounds of cannabis flower that has been trimmed from plants that have been cultivated in or on the grounds of a person’s private residence; and
  • Process cannabis flower into cannabis concentrate, with restrictions as to method. 

The Cannabis Control Board adopted regulations last year allowing individuals with medical marijuana cards and their caregivers to grow their own plants at home.

The proposed rules for non-medical home cultivation closely track the medical marijuana home-grow regulations adopted last year, John Kagia, policy director for the Office of Cannabis Management said.  

The Times-Union reported Friday that the regulations contain “a provision that would allow retail marijuana store owners and operators to sell starter plants to customers.”

The full text of the proposed rules was not published with the Cannabis Control Board’s meeting agenda and was not available on its website or the website of the Office of Cannabis Management, which provides access to existing regulations and those in the rulemaking process. 

The board published a “preview” document summarizing the proposed rules prior to the meeting. The preview document does not mention the starter-plant provision. 

The full text of the rules will be published in an upcoming edition of the State Register, which is published by the Department of State weekly on Wednesdays. If the proposal is filed with the department by Feb. 20, the full text will be published in the March 6 State Register, according to deadlines published on the State Register’s website. When published, the proposed rules will be available online there.

The law enacted in March 2021 requires home-grow regulations to be in place within eighteen months of the first retail sale of adult-use cannabis in New York State.  

Kagia said Friday the adoption timeline for the rules will meet the deadline set in the law.

First non-conditional retail licenses approved by state

The Cannabis Control Board on Friday also approved its first batch of non-conditional retail licenses.  Until now, it had only approved non-medical retail licenses for applicants that met eligibility criteria under the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURD) program, which prioritizes justice-involved people. On Friday, the CCB issued 109 licenses, with 38 going to applicants seeking to open a retail dispensary and another 26 going to applicants seeking to operate a microbusiness license which allows a licensee to grow, process, distribute and sell all under one license.   

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has expressed displeasure with the rollout of the adult-use retail cannabis licensing, hailed the issuance of the non-conditional retail licenses as a major step forward for the industry in New York State.

New York now has 70 licensed adult-use cannabis retailers, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office Friday. A list of the licensed locations is published by the Office of Cannabis Management on its website. Only two of the state-licensed locations are on Long Island, both in Farmingdale in the Town of Babylon. State licenses are not required for dispensaries located on lands within the Shinnecock and Poospatuck reservations, in Southampton and Mastic respectively. 

Four of Long Island’s 13 towns did not pass laws banning retail marijuana shops and lounges: Babylon, Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton. Each of the four towns has its own zoning code restrictions on the location and operation of the shops. 

Feb. 21 public hearing set on local cannabis zoning changes

Riverhead’s zoning rules have come under fire as unreasonably restrictive by industry advocates and businesses that have been issued state licenses, who complained that the zoning restrictions effectively prevent them from opening up in the town. 

In response, the town has proposed code changes that would modify a restriction prohibiting a retail marijuana shop or lounge within 1,000 feet of any residential use. The amendment would create an exception to that prohibition for properties “with frontage along and located within five commercial corridors” as defined in the amended code. The commercial corridors are essentially the town’s business corridors, with the exception of downtown Riverhead, where marijuana shops and lounges are banned altogether. 

MORE COVERAGE: Riverhead proposes relaxing zoning restrictions on marijuana businesses, but license holders say changes may not go far enough

A public hearing on the proposed code amendment is scheduled to be held at the Riverhead Town Board’s next meeting on Wednesday. Read the proposed code amendment here.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor and attorney. Her work has been recognized with numerous journalism awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She was also honored in 2020 with a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction Award for her trailblazing work in local online news. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.