A New York senator recently filed a bill to create a provisional marijuana licensing category so that farmers could begin cultivating and selling cannabis ahead of the formal rollout of the adult-use program.

Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D) introduced the legislation, which would establish the temporary license, with the intent being to let farmers start producing cannabis in time for the next growing season. This would be a stepping stone toward righting the wrongs of the racially discriminatory drug war while regulators work to stand up the new market, the senator, who serves as co-chair of the Black Puerto Rican Hispanic and Asian (BPHA) Legislative Caucus’ Marijuana Task Force, said.

“This legislation enables New York cannabis farmers to put seeds in the ground, so that the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana are not delayed for another growing season,” Cooney said. “We passed adult-use recreational marijuana with the promise of investing in communities most negatively impacted by the failed War on Drugs. This bill allows us to start fulfilling that promise by creating a supply chain of products for retailers in this new economy.”

S. 7295 would allow for provisional licenses so that businesses can operate in the interim if the the state’s Office of Cannabis Management hasn’t finalized rules by January 1, 2022.

“Such provisional license shall include the same authorizations granted under to cultivator’s license, and shall take effect no later than March 1, 2021,” the summary says. “If the board has not established either the cultivator’s license or cultivator’s provisional license by January 1, 2022, the department of agriculture and markets shall establish and issue such licenses until such time the board is able to do so.”

The bill—which is all the more timely given that regulatory appointments weren’t made by the time that lawmakers recessed for the session—has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee.


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The hope is that by taking this step and establishing the basic market infrastructure, the industry will be well positioned to succeed when full regulations are implemented.

Even without this legislation, the state comptroller recently projected that New York stands to eventually generate $245 million in annual marijuana revenue.

For the first year of cannabis sales, the state is expected to see just $20 million in tax and fee collections. That will be part of an estimated $26.7 billion in new revenues that New York is expected to generate in fiscal year 2021-2022 under a budget that the legislature passed in April.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill to legalize cannabis for adult use in March. While personal possession of up to three ounces was made legal immediately after its signing, retail shops aren’t expected to launch until next year.

Tax dollars from marijuana sales would first cover the cost of implementing the program, then 40 percent would go to schools through the state lottery fund, 40 percent would support community reinvestments and 20 percent would be used for drug treatment and public education.

The $245 million in tax revenue that’s being projected by the comptroller’s office is slightly lower than what the governor suggested when he initially released details of a legalization proposal that he included in this year’s budget. But the final law is the product of negotiations between Cuomo and the legislature to merge his initial proposal with a separate plan that lawmakers had introduced.

“Cannabis legalization will create more than 60,000 new jobs, spurring $3.5 billion in economic activity and generating an estimated $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented,” the governor’s office said in January.

Meanwhile, a New York lawmaker introduced a bill last month that would require the state to establish an institute to research the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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