On June 1st, 2022 New York cannabis regulators got a lot closer to opening up its adult-use cannabis retail market by approved guidelines related to testing, labeling, and advertising requirements. The public comment period just closed on August 15th, 2022.
Among the rules included approving 16 additional cannabis cultivator applications so that the New York cannabis market will have enough product when recreational sales launch later this year. Also, the legislation included restrictions on cannabis packaging, packages cannot be made to appeal to underage consumers and must be tamper-proof and child-proofed.
The goal of the new legislation is to ensure public safety and prevent underage usage according to the Cannabis Control Board (CCB).
CCB Chair Tremaine Wright said, “Protecting public health, reducing harm, and promoting sustainable industry practices are key components of legalizing cannabis for adult use and I look forward to considering these regulations as we develop the industry. We are committed to building a New York cannabis industry that sets high standards for protecting children and keeping products safe and sustainable.”
How is the CCB positioning New York’s retail market for success?
Last month the CCB held meetings where 94 cultivator licenses for existing hemp businesses were approved as a part of the seeding initiative after the first 52 applications were approved. Also, 162 New York cannabis farmers are now fully licensed to grow adult-use cannabis in New York which will be available at dispensaries shortly. The conditional licenses that were allowed in February 2022 have also greatly impacted ramping up of production for what is expected to be a booming industry.
CCB regulators also approved regulations in April to allow medical cannabis patients to grow their own personal use plants. Public comment for regs closed in July. The final revised regs should be put before the board in an upcoming meeting. A new budget proposal will look to allow cannabis businesses to have various state tax deductions to help with start-up costs. Senator Jeremy Cooney also filed a bill that hopes to promote cannabis banking by disclosing certain licensees’ information.
New York Cannabis Sustainable Practices (Packaging):
Licensees have to submit an environmental sustainability program for their cannabis product(s) packaging as part of the application process. These packages cannot be made of single-use plastic and the licensee also needs to include proposed plans to sanitize marijuana packaging for reuse. This is a suggestion to be included in the environmental sustainability plan but is a requirement if retailers intend to reuse packages.
Senator Michelle Hinchey also filed a bill to promote recycling in the cannabis industry once retail sales begin. This bill would ensure that cannabis shops apply a $1 deposit to cannabis products sold in single-use plastic containers and reimburse consumers for that fee if they return the container. The legislation (2021 Bill) will also prioritize hemp-based packaging rather than synthetic plastics. It is unknown at this time however if either initiative will be used.
For now, CCB’s regulatory proposal says that “retail packages can be reused after appropriate sanitation and based on visual inspection if the retail package is in good working order and does not appear to pose a risk of unintended exposure or ingestion of cannabis products.” The packages for non-cannabis food items also need to be labeled to identify major allergens and edibles/beverages need a nutrition label as well.
The product labels must include; if solvents were used in the products, the expiry date, use-by-date, QR code, and usage instructions. Additionally, cannabis items must contain this language: “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS. For use only by persons 21 years and older,” and include a warning for pregnant women. Smokable or vaping cannabis products need to include their own warnings about the health risks of inhaling, and edible products will need to include a caution that the onset of effects could take up to four hours.
New York Cannabis Testing Requirements:
Additionally, CCB members also specified certain testing requirements like; no cannabis facility can have a business interest in other licensee types i.e. cultivators, on-site consumption facilities, and retailers. Labs will also be required to look for contaminates as defined by regulators “microorganisms, foreign material, metals, moisture content and water activity, mycotoxins, pesticides, residual solvents, terpenoids, and any other analyte or group of analytes.”
New York Cannabis Advertising:
The Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved the following policies businesses marketing their products are required to add language ‘For use only by adults 21 years of age and older. Keep out of reach of children and pets. In case of accidental ingestion or overconsumption, contact the National Poison Control Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or call 9-1-1. Please consume responsibly.” The rotating series of warnings that ads must contain include:
- “Cannabis may cause impairment and may be habit-forming.”
- “Cannabis can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of cannabis.”
- “There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.”
- “Cannabis is not recommended for use by persons who are pregnant or nursing.”
New York cannabis business licensees would only be allowed to advertise at events if 90% of attendees are 21 or older. Another notable regulation that the board approved stipulates that marijuana businesses could not promote “price, price reductions, or any other discount, customer loyalty program, or coupon.” They also can’t use the word “organic” in marketing their products, among many other restrictions.
New York’s Legal Cannabis Market in June 2022:
Although adults 21 and older can possess, gift, and publicly consume cannabis, no retailers are authorized to sell cannabis yet in the state as the legalization law is still being implemented. Governor Hochul said that “while cannabis business licenses have yet to be approved since legalization was signed into law last year, the market stands to generate billions of dollars, and it’s important to create opportunities for all New Yorkers, particularly those from historically marginalized communities.”
Regulators are hopeful for an expedited activation as dozens of warnings have already been issued to businesses taking advantage of the “gifting component” or illegally selling cannabis without a license. The New York cannabis law was created with those impacted by the criminalization of cannabis in mind and regulators are still giving those that were caught up in the war on drugs many opportunities in the upcoming industry.
A New York lawmaker also just introduced a bill that would require the state to establish a research institute to monitor the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. Another state legislator also filed back in December to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for medical purposes and establish facilities where psychedelics could be grown and administered to patients. It is an exciting time for the New York cannabis market with an estimated 60,000 potential job opportunities projected to be made available as well.