New York Officials Will Vote On Marijuana Home Cultivation Rules This Week

New York regulators have released a preview of proposed rules for home cultivation of marijuana by adults ahead of the plan’s formal consideration by the state Cannabis Control Board (CCB) at a meeting set for Wednesday.

The proposal, which comes more than a year after adult-use retail marijuana sales began in New York, would allow adults to grow up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants, with no more than six mature plants and six immature plants per private residence, regardless of the number of adults who live there.

Adults would be able to keep up to five pounds of marijuana that has been trimmed from the legal plants they grow, or the equivalent weight of that raw flower if converted into concentrates. People could also have combined flower and concentrate amounts adding up to no more than that total equivalent weight.

Currently adults can possess up to three ounces of marijuana and up to 24 grams of concentrate, including oil and edibles.

Plants grown under the proposed regulations would need to be stored in a secure location “that is not plainly visible from public view” and in a manner that “prevents theft, loss or access to residents under the age of 21,” according to a preview from the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). Homegrown marijuana would need to be for personal use and could not be sold, though cannabis currently can be shared with other adults so long as it’s below legal possession amounts.

If odor presents a nuisance to neighbors, people growing cannabis would need to remediate those issues, and OCM plans to “continue to work with municipalities across New York to offer support and guidance on this subject.”

New Yorkers with more than one residence could only use a single site for cultivation under the proposed rules.

Home cultivation for certified medical marijuana patients and designated caregivers, meanwhile, has been legal in the state since October 2022, just ahead of the opening of adult-use retail sales in December that year. The state’s cannabis legalization law enacted in 2021 mandates that adult-use homegrow would have to launch within 18 months of the first recreational retail sales.

While possession and commerce around seeds are already lawful—qualifying as a federally legal hemp product, because they contain less than 0.3 percent THC—the proposed regulations would allow adults to purchase immature immature plants from state-licensed cannabis retailers, microbusinesses and vertically integrated registered organizations with dispensing.

Those businesses would need to have active nursery registration certificates from state Department of Agriculture and Markets, and plants sold would need to be labeled with strain name, date of harvest, a warning label to keep the plant out of reach of minors and any other information OCM deems necessary.

Municipalities couldn’t prohibit adults entirely from growing marijuana at home, but they could adopt laws that “reasonably regulate” homegrow. Adults who live in federally subsidized housing or on U.S. military bases could not grow at home, however, “since cannabis is still federally illegal and could be at risk of losing their housing if they participate in home cultivation,” the preview says—a restriction that also applies to medical marijuana patients.

Multi-unit buildings could be more complicated. According to the preview of the proposed regulations, co-ops and condos “would be able to determine whether or not they want to implement general odor mitigation policies that could impact adult-use home cultivation in compliance with state and local municipal laws, rules and ordinances.” Landlords could “institute similar odor mitigation policies outlined in leases.”

The preview does not explicitly state whether home cultivation could be forbidden outright in multi-unit buildings, however, instead stating: “Landlords, co-ops and condos still cannot forbid residents from from possessing cannabis in their private residences unless this would risk federal benefits to said housing units.”

If CCB members approve the proposed rules on Wednesday, a 60-day public comment period would begin. If no significant changes are made after that as a result of public input, OCM would then submit the regulations to CCB for final approval. If there are significant changes, a revised proposal would be followed by a 45-day public comment period.

“In New York State,” an OCM press release said, “it could often take anywhere from six to 12 months from initial proposal to final adoption for regulation packages like these.”

Comments on the proposed regulations, OCM said, can be sent to [email protected] or mailed to New York State Office of Cannabis Management, P.O. Box 2071, Albany, NY 12220. The office has also published general tips “intended to help you submit a strong comment that will best explain your views and improve the proposed regulations on which you are commenting,” the release says.

Earlier this month, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called on lawmakers to repeal the state’s THC potency tax and replace it with a wholesale excise tax of 9 percent, aiming to reduce costs for consumers and simplify reporting requirements to help make licensed businesses more competitive against illicit operators.

OCM also recently released its latest annual marijuana industry report, along with a pair of separate documents focusing on equity in the industry and an enforcement against unlicensed operators.

That report came days after OCM offered a brief snapshot of the state’s first year of legal sales, highlighting that consumers purchased more than 3.5 million cannabis products during 2023, with total sales expected to exceed $150 million. In terms of enforcement against unlicensed marijuana activity, the state seized 11,600 pounds of illicit products worth an estimated $56 million. They also performed 369 “enforcement inspections” of illicit operations.

As New York works to significantly expand the state’s regulated marijuana market, a bill filed in the Assembly this month would empower individual municipal governments to shut down unlicensed cannabis businesses and seize their products.

The governor’s budget proposal similarly includes legislation to allow state and local officials to “seal or padlock an unlicensed cannabis business,” it says. It also “provides additional staff resources to the Department of Taxation and Finance to assist these expanded enforcement efforts.”

New York regulators are moving to process hundreds of marijuana business license applications. Over a dozen new cannabis retailers opened in December alone following a settlement agreement lifting an injunction that had imposed a months-long licensing blockade.

“Our top priority is to grow and expand New York’s legal cannabis industry while cracking down on the illicit storefronts that continue to plague communities,” the governor said at the time.

Separately, the state’s Department of Labor last month published dozens of sample job descriptions for positions in the legal industry, which officials said are intended to help companies streamline hiring processes and allow prospective employees to assess their qualifications to work in various roles within the emerging cannabis industry.

Hochul, meanwhile, signed legislation in November that attempts to make it somewhat easier for financial institutions to work with state-licensed cannabis clients. She also signed a separate bill that’s meant to provide tax relief to New York City marijuana businesses that are currently blocked from making federal deductions under an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code known as 280E.

While Hochul signed an earlier budget bill in 2022 that included provisions allow state-level cannabis business tax deductions—a partial remedy to the ongoing federal issue—New York City has its own tax laws that weren’t affected by that change. The new measure is meant to fill that policy gap.

Hochul also recently vetoed legislation that would have allowed hemp seeds to be included in animal feed for pets, horses and camelids such as llamas and alpacas.

In September, 66 state lawmakers—about a third of the entire state legislature—also wrote to Hochul urging her to sign a bill that would allow licensed marijuana producers to sell products to tribal retailers. The plan would offer a release valve to hundreds of cannabis farmers who are currently sitting on surpluses but have no place to sell their products. Last month Hochul vetoed that bill.

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