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New York Opens the Door for Recreational Marijuana

New York Opens the Door for Recreational Marijuana

As of March 31st, New York is the 15th state to legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana. That’s right, several years after Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, it is now time for New York to be the state everyone is talking about. 

Many thought the day would never come, but adults are now given the green light to smoke marijuana anywhere that a cigarette is allowed, can possess up to three ounces of the herb, and all New Yorkers with marijuana convictions will have their records expunged as state agencies start to sort through files.

There is a lot to consider, but mainly this legislation means change is coming for New York’s economic development and for businesses involved in the CBD and/or hemp industry. The Office of Cannabis Management has to sort out the details in terms of regulations before people can walk up to a flower-friendly-hookah-bar-styled lounge or visit a dispensary without needing a medical prescription card. Public officials predict this process to take at least a year before the buying and selling of recreational marijuana is available to the public.  

There are over 20 registered medical dispensaries throughout the state of New York and a handful of different stores, boutiques, and apothecaries that sell products containing CBD and/or hemp. Local businesses are creative in using an array of different products from CBD sparkling waters and teas, hemp-infused soaps, tinctures, and skincare products. Further, more than half of New York residents support the legalization of cannabis, according to a poll done by Spectrum News in Albany last October. 

So, to say the least, New Yorkers are familiar with this crafted, green leaf; However, no matter how familiar you are with something, it inevitably takes time to adjust to big changes. 


What’s to come for the Hudson Valley?

Several existing Hudson Valley businesses involved in the CBD and hemp industry are weighing their options and brainstorming with their teams to plan their next moves accordingly. So far, there are more positive, hopeful remarks than negative about the legalization of recreational marijuana and the impacts it will have on the Hudson Valley community as a whole. 

Harney & Sons Fine Teas is a globally known tea company that is located here in Millerton, New York. The company has been known since 1983 for its abundant variety of high-quality loose teas. In 2018, Michael and Paul Harney, sons of President and Founder John Harney, introduced The Hemp Division of the company and started the production of premium CBD-infused teas. 

Vice President of Harney & Sons and Co-founder of The Hemp Division Michael Harney hopes that the future will open the opportunity to create products where both THC and CBD can coexist. While Harney expects this new legislation to be good for their business, he is hoping state regulators aren’t going to make the rules as strict as they have been in Canada. The Hemp Division currently has an array of hemp-extracted CBD bottled teas and coffee as well as CBD tea bags available for purchase online or in most grocery stores all over the globe. 

Harney went on to explain that he has been reading that “this change is the new Gold Rush,” and says that Harney & Sons will be adjusting the current products accordingly while also welcoming new products that will be compliant with the new regulations that have yet to be announced. 

On a smaller business scale, Hudson Valley CBD based in Westchester County brings all-natural, high-quality CBD products to consumers through their online website and at reseller locations like Poughkeepsie’s Hudson Valley Healing Center and New Rochelle’s Westchester Yoga Arts. 

“As a small business, we do not have the funding the state is looking for to get into the marijuana side of things. For now, we plan to continue in our lane of hemp-based cannabinoids- CBD being one. We also have CBG and CBN products currently being developed,” said Co-founder Rob Posenato. 

Regardless of uncertainties, HVCBD believes that this legislation will affect their retail business in a positive light now that they will be able to carry whole hemp flower. More importantly, Posenato is eager for the educational aspect of recreational cannabis and the opportunity to create more jobs in the industry. 

“With the increase of crops and farming coming, there will only be a larger demand for people to work on the farms, process the products, lab test them, as well as sell and market them. I can see the industry growing very rapidly here on the east coast,” said Posenato. 

Medical marijuana dispensaries are just as involved in making adjustments for what’s to come. The ambition to get things rolling is increasing as the weeks go on. “We’ve been waiting for years now for some modernization to the program and I think that it will be really great for patients to get access sooner and for expanded product capacity,” said Chief Operating Officer of Etain Health Hilary Peckman. 

Etain Health is a women-owned medical marijuana business based in Westchester County with locations in Kingston, Syracuse, Manhattan, and Yonkers. 

“It’s our intention to stay women-owned and scale the business, and just figuring out how to do both. Scaling takes access to capital, and we are trying to figure out our next steps in how to accomplish that,” said Peckham. 

A vastly important impact of this legislation is the creation of job opportunities. Etain is well aware that if the current regulations are finalized that it would “allow each existing operator in New York State to add four dispensaries for adult use, allowing Etain to add 20 to 40 employees to its New York workforce of 60/70.” This could essentially generate the likelihood of hundreds of new jobs for New York State. 



We have a bit of time on our hands before the buds start rolling into your local herb shop or dispensary. For now, these businesses are thrilled that they will be able to sell whole flower as it has been the most requested product for several different establishments for years. 

All things considered, each establishment will make its own decisions throughout the process while following the state regulations once it’s enacted. With the cannabis industry progressing in a new direction for New York, it can be overwhelming, but take a step back and remember to look ahead at New York’s intentions and focus on the goal to “ensure social justice, public health and safety, and economic development.”

By Victoria Cymbal
Victoria is a freelance writer in the Hudson Valley where she spends her time either finding new ways to bring the community together or hiking the local Catskill mountains. 

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