New York approves homegrown marijuana amid retail concerns

February 21, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
New York residents will soon be able to cultivate their own cannabis as state eases into homegrown regulations.Photo: Jim Mone/AP
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New York has edged closer to allowing residents aged 21 and over to grow their own marijuana at home, following the state Cannabis Control Board’s recent adoption of new rules on Friday. 

This decision, nearly three years after the legalization of marijuana in the state, introduces the possibility for individuals to cultivate up to six plants — three mature and three immature — at their residences. The regulations are still pending a 60-day public comment period before enactment.

The move arrives as New York anticipates its fourth outdoor growing season since marijuana legalization in spring 2021, clarifying misconceptions around unlicensed home cultivation. Each household, regardless of the number of adult occupants, is limited to growing no more than six mature and six immature plants simultaneously. Additionally, individuals can possess up to 5 pounds of cultivated cannabis flower from their private residences.

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“I applaud New York’s decision to embrace home grow as it recognizes the growing desire for consumer autonomy and opens exciting possibilities for both New Yorkers and the legal cannabis industry,” said Sarah Carter, the communications director at Symple Seeds. 

“Home cultivation not only provides enthusiasts with the opportunity to engage in a hands-on and educational experience but also supports the principles of self-sustainability and responsible cannabis consumption. It allows individuals to have a deeper understanding of the plant, its various strains and the cultivation process”

Concerns were raised during the Cannabis Control Board’s meeting on Friday about the potential impact of home cultivation on New York’s budding retail marijuana industry. 

Officials previously delayed home-grow regulations to prevent market saturation, which they claimed could hinder the success of new retail outlets. However, the thriving out-in-the-open, underground market continues to pose challenges.

Retailers interested in selling starter plants must obtain a nursery dealer registration certificate and ensure each plant is properly labeled with strain information, expected harvest date and safety warnings. 

The sale of marijuana seeds, legal since the 2018 federal Agriculture Improvement Act, remains unregulated by the state Office of Cannabis Management, and individuals 21 or older can purchase them without restriction.

The board’s decision has sparked a dialogue on ensuring responsible home cultivation without impacting communities. Educational efforts will focus on informing the public about cultivation limits, sourcing inputs, and managing odor to maintain good neighbor relations. 

The initiative aims to complement the regulated medical and adult-use markets, providing New Yorkers the opportunity to engage in home cultivation safely and within regulatory bounds.

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