Medical cannabis patients in New York can now grow their own marijuana plants.
Beginning October 5th, individuals in New York state who meet the requirements and are legally certified as medical marijuana patients or caregivers will be allowed to grow cannabis in their homes, according to the Times Union.
Britni Tantalo, owner of Flower City Hydroponics in Fairport, NY, says, "Today marks history in the cannabis industry. Most medical marijuana cardholders only had access to medical dispensaries, which have limited products or things that don't tailor to their ailments."
"Today marks history in the cannabis industry. Most medical marijuana cardholders only had access to medical dispensaries, which have limited products or things that don't tailor to their ailments."
- Britni Tantalo, Owner of Flower City Hydroponics
State officials, however, are quick to point out that certain limitations are associated with the new law. For example, according to the tenets of the legislation, a single patient is allowed to grow up to three mature and three immature female cannabis plants, with no more than 12 allowed depending on the total number of caregivers they might have.
Mature plants are defined as those with buds forming, while immature plants can be any height as long as they do not have visible buds. Additionally, the new guidelines enable a medical patient or caregiver of a patient to also hold up to five pounds of cultivated marijuana in addition to any plants.
However, it is illegal for a patient or caregiver to sell marijuana, seeds, or plants to another person. But they can gift up to three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis to another certified patient or caregiver.
The state's medical marijuana program, which has been in effect since 2016, was recently expanded to allow for more qualified ailments. Along with that expansion and this new allowance for home plant growth, many in the state see this as a significant leap in the evolution of New York's medicinal cannabis efforts.
Lyla Hunt, the Deputy Director of Public Health for the NYS Office of Cannabis Management, shares, "It is a big step forward for medical patients. We've seen real extreme interest from patients and designated caregivers to have the ability to cultivate cannabis at home."
"It is a big step forward for medical patients. We've seen real extreme interest from patients and designated caregivers to have the ability to cultivate cannabis at home."
- Lyla Hunt, Deputy Dir. of Public Health for the NYS Office of Cannabis Mgmt.
The rollout of home cultivation has frustrated some, considering regulators had missed the deadline in the original law, which mandated home grows to be made legal a year ago. Regardless, some New Yorkers have already been growing marijuana plants at home, with many patients and caregivers willing to risk any consequences from producing their own cannabis once it was decriminalized and police ceased targeting small-scale grows.
Despite the imperfections, the overall takeaway from implementing legalized home grows for qualified individuals is mostly very positive. Jen Metzger, a member of the Cannabis Control Board and a former state senator, says, "The change will really improve the accessibility and affordability of cannabis for some patients." However, she warns first-time growers to consider investing in energy-efficient equipment for environmental reasons and "because it can have a huge impact on your electricity bills."
"The change will really improve the accessibility and affordability of cannabis for some patients."
- Jen Metzger, NY Cannabis Control Board
During the early history of the American union, New York had many prominent individuals who grew hemp as a wildly successful and versatile cash crop. So it is only fitting that the Empire State is now allowing medically qualified patients and caregivers living in the state to grow their own approved cannabis at home.
And with several other legalized marijuana initiatives up for voter approval in key states this coming Election Day, there may be potential future opportunities for more Americans to begin cultivating cannabis plants at home. The only way to effect change in a democracy is at the ballot box. So get out and VOTE!