By Luke Sumpter

Can you legally grow cannabis in New York? Not just yet. However, cultivators in the state could find themselves gaining this newfosiund freedom just in time for 4/20. Continue reading to discover the chances of this epic event unfolding, what could disrupt it, and what the new cultivation laws will look like.

Approval of Home Cannabis Cultivation in New York

Citizens of New York are set to receive the green light to grow weed at home. The new rules, which have already received initial approval by the state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB), will allow adults aged 21 and older to grow up to six plants. Up until now, New York has remained one of the few states to legalize the adult use of cannabis without permitting cultivation. This could all be about to change right in time with 4/20, the largest annual cannabis event, if the regulations make it past the final hurdle.

New York weed

Will New York Go Green in Time for 4/20?

The New York State CCB first approved the new regulations on February 16th, 2024. Since then, the proposed rule change has undergone a 60-day public comment period that ended on April 16th. During this time, citizens had the opportunity to write emails and letters to the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to raise concerns and challenges regarding the proposed changes in cannabis cultivation law. Now that the comment period has ended, things will go one of two ways. If no significant changes are proposed by the public, the OCM will represent the regulations to the CCB for final approval. Alternatively, a strong challenge from public voices will force the OCM to present the CCB with revised regulations, and a further 45-day public comment period will ensue—delaying the legalization of home cultivation.

While delays are unlikely to curtail the legalization of home cultivation, receiving a green light within the coming days will mean New York cultivators could sow seeds as soon as 4/20, giving cannabis fans even more of a reason to celebrate.

A document[1] published by the OCM has outlined the rules that New York growers over the age of 21 need to adhere to in order to stay within the legal boundaries. The regulations state that individual growers may cultivate no more than six plants at once. This includes a maximum of three immature plants that have not entered the flowering stage, and three mature blooming plants. This means cultivators will have to carefully time when they sow seeds and transition plants from the vegetative stage into the flowering stage. Despite this individual limit, the regulations state that the amount of plants per private residence may not exceed six mature plants and six immature plants, regardless of the number of adults living there.

The new rules also lay out possession limits. New York growers will be allowed to possess up to 5lbs (2.26kg) of trimmed cannabis flowers at one time from plants grown in or on the grounds of their private residence. Citizens also have the option of possessing cannabis concentrates that derive from this amount of trimmed flowers, or a mix of concentrates and dried flowers, as long as the total does not exceed this limit.

Plant and possession limits aside, NY marijuana growers are expected to adhere to safety regulations that include:

  • Cannabis plants must be stored in a secure location outside of public view
  • Cannabis must be stored in a way that prevents access to residents under the age of 21
  • Growers can only cultivate plants on one site, not spread across multiple properties
  • Growers must limit odour issues if they become a nuisance to neighbors

A quick look at these rules makes it clear that growers in New York have found themselves in a favorable position compared to most regions in the world. Relatively generous plant and possession limits mean individuals will have enough freedom to supply themselves with a constant stream of homegrown cannabis.

Growing weed in New York rules

Local Businesses Will Sell Cannabis Plants

Alongside the initial regulatory approval of home cultivation rules on February 16th, the state CCB also approved 109 additional cannabis business licenses to retail dispensaries and cultivators in New York. When home growing goes legal, retail dispensaries, microbusinesses, and other registered organizations with dispensing licenses will sell adult-use immature cannabis plants to consumers straight off the shelves. However, these plants will only exchange hands for the purposes of private home cultivation, and strict regulations will ensure the proper handling and marketing of these products.

Businesses must first obtain an active Nursery Dealer Registration Certificate from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in order to legally sell immature plants to adult growers. Nurseries are also required to correctly tag each plant, detailing the name of the strain, the date of harvest, a warning to keep them away from children, and any other information required by the OCM in the future.

Seed sales in the state will continue as normal since the Federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 legalized the sale of cannabis seeds across the United States. Home growers will have a broad choice when it comes to sourcing seeds, and can legally purchase them from dispensaries or online stores.

Whether home cannabis cultivation goes legal in time for 4/20 or becomes subject to a secondary public comment period, growers in the state will inevitably receive the green light in the near future. The new regulations propose a massive shift in the way the state views cannabis, and will provide growers with the legal means of procuring enough weed for personal consumption. But what big moves came previously to lay the groundwork for this huge green step forward?

The roots of this progress can be traced back to the legalization of medical cannabis in New York in 2014. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that enabled the state Department of Health to launch a medical marijuana programme that gave license to private growers to set up medical dispensaries. In 2018, Cuomo went on to prompt state legislatures to fund research into the potential effects of legalizing recreational cannabis. The findings of this investigation recommended legalization based on economic and public health benefits.

In 2019, Cuomo further decriminalised recreational cannabis by issuing only minor fines for possession of under two ounces (56g) but didn’t legalize it at the time. The legalization of recreational cannabis use finally took place in 2021 as part of the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). Signed into law by Cuomo, the MRTA enabled adults 21 and older to possess up to 5lbs (2.2kg) of cannabis privately in their own homes and also set the groundwork for the legal recreational cultivation we’re seeing come to fruition now.

Legal weed grow in New York

Will New York See a Historical 4/20 This Year?

New York stands on the cusp of legal recreational cannabis cultivation. With the first public comment period over and the proposed regulation now being presented to the CCB again for final approval, adults in the state could receive the green light to start growing weed at home just in time for 4/20, a move that would unify this momentous day with the beginning of a new era of legal cultivation. Failing this, growers in the state may have to ensure another, shorter public comment period before they can start cultivating a stash on their own property. Either way, the legalization of home cultivation seems inevitable in New York in the coming months.

This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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