Can a Hemp Grower ‘Prepare’ For Marijuana?

So, is there a way to prepare for marijuana? This is sort of a trick question. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant. It’s the amount of one single cannabinoid, the all-popular THC, that changes a hemp plant into a marijuana one. So, from a farmer’s perspective, there’s no difference in how it’s grown.

Logistically the two plants are the same, but for many states, one is legal and one is not. So, it’s not really a matter of preparing to grow marijuana if you’re only allowed to grow hemp. Instead, it’s how easy it will be to make the shift if you already grow hemp and your state legalizes marijuana.

New York is trying to figure this out by writing up a very interesting new bill.

Cannabis Licensing in advance

Licensing is another major consideration when it’s time to prepare for marijuana. Although adults, 21 and older, can possess and publicly use cannabis in New York, licensing isn’t finalized. There are also no retailers authorized to sell it throughout the state. The concern then is that if it becomes legal, existing hemp growers won’t have entry into the market.

A new Provisional Cannabis License Bill introduced recently proposes a plan to issue provisional marijuana cultivator and processor licenses to existing hemp businesses. The hope is these businesses will promote equity in the ever-growing cannabis industry.

Early licensing will also help New York establish its own adult-use cannabis market.

Putting a focus on equity

Many hemp licenses just allow farmers to grow and processors to process. But, these provisional marijuana licenses come with strict requirements that make them a bit different.

  • Holders must have had a license from the state Department of Agriculture to grow hemp as of December 31, 2021.
  • Will have to have grown hemp for two of the past four years.
  • Need to participate in an environmental sustainability program.
  • Need to participate in a social equity mentorship program.

Those issued this special license will also have to enter into a labor peace agreement with a labor organization actively engaged in representing all employees. The licensee will have six months, within licensure, to carry this task out.

How mentorship will work

The mentorship program will pair hemp farmers with those well-versed in agriculture business management and sustainable cannabis cultivation.

Pairings will target:

  • Individuals living in areas disproportionately impacted by prohibition
  • Minority-owned and women-owned businesses
  • Distressed farmers
  • Service-disabled veterans

Establishing a timeline

If the bill passes, the Office of Cannabis Management will have the ability to issue this conditional license up until June 1, 2023. The license will become invalid as of June 30, 2024.

Anyone who misses the deadline for the conditional license will have to apply for a standard, adult-use license.

The bill further states that those with a provisional license would be able to produce cannabis products. The caveat is that the final product is in the form of cannabis flower.

Once granted a provisional license, if you remain in compliance with the rules and requirements, you’ll become eligible to apply for, and receive, an adult-use cultivation license. However, new requirements may be part of the adult-use license. You’ll have to meet those as well to complete eligibility.

Thinking ahead from hemp to marijuana

It’s a great show of forethought for New York to look ahead to the shift that may happen in the state between hemp and marijuana, and attempt to take necessary steps to make things as inclusive and accessible as possible.

With so much potential within the cannabis industry as a whole, giving everyone their chance to grow and process plants is important.

Keeping an eye on change

As leaders in the hemp industry, Arbor Vita8 makes it a priority to stay on top of the latest developments in both hemp and marijuana. For access to our extensive resource library that includes news, educational pieces, and content directed at both farmers and manufacturers, visit us online today.


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