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New York’s Office of Cannabis Management announced they plan to allow conditional cultivators and retailers to organize and sell weed at farmers’ markets this summer.

During a meeting with the Cannabis Association of New York, OCM Director of Policy John Kagia told attendees the agency will allow conditional growers and Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURDs) to team up and sell products at a location other than the retailer’s shop.

The markets will allow cultivators to offload a surplus of weed they can’t currently sell – since only 13 retailers are currently operational, Kagia said.

“A minimum of three growers and a retailer can organize events where growers can sell flower and pre rolls … and do so through a retailer, but at non-storefront locations,” Kagia said.

OCM will likely allow these events to take place anywhere organizers can get municipal approval, Kagia said, and the agency is not setting limits for how many growers can participate in an event.

Regulators are still working out details for the pilot program, and OCM will likely take at least a month before they launch it. OCM Chief Equity Officer Damian Fagon said the agency will consider making the pilot program permanent.

The announcement comes as New York cannabis cultivators are collectively sitting on millions of dollars worth of product. Licensed New York cannabis cultivators planted and harvested last year, but few have products on shelves at the 13 legal stores currently open.

Before Kagia announced the plan, CANY Cultivation Committee Secretary Kerry Trammel, who holds an AUCC license, talked about the challenges she and other weed farmers have faced since last year.

“We’re struggling to survive, to pay our bills, we had to give up the property that we leased after spending $50,000,” Trammel said. “As of today, May 25, 2023, we still don’t have [a place to sell] the product that we spent so much time and care to produce … unfortunately, I’m not alone.”

Joe Rossi, a managing director at Park Strategies – and leader of the firm’s Cannabis Practice Group – praised OCM’s move in allowing farmers’ markets, and said similar events have been successful around the state.

“Legacy cannabis farmers’ markets have done extremely well in cities across New York State in the past few years, so we know this program model is a successful one,” said Rossi, who is also CANY’s lobbyist.

Allowing farmers’ markets also seems like a good idea to Coss Marte, founder CONBODY fitness studio in New York City and CONBUD, a recently licensed cannabis retailer. However, Marte, who is also a founder of the CAURD Coalition, questioned how much the program would do toward alleviating the near-bankruptcy situation in which many cultivators currently find themselves.

“I think it’ll be a good thing to do, but I don’t think it’s going to solve the issue and bail out the farmers for all that cannabis that’s been pretty much sitting in storage,” Marte said.

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