New York State close to authorizing personal Marijuana growing

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New York State close to authorizing personal Marijuana growing

New Yorkers could start growing their own recreational pot at home this spring under rules put forward by the state.

The Cannabis Control Board, which approves marijuana-related policy, has released rules on home cultivation for public comment. After soliciting feedback for 60 days, the state will consider tweaks, and if no substantial changes are made, the measure may be put before the board for final approval.

The proposed rules would allow each adult to grow up to six cannabis plants: three mature or starting to develop flowers, and three immature. No household could have more than a dozen plants regardless of how many adults live in the home.

Home growers must be 21 or older, and may not sell any of what they grow. 

Currently, only people with medical marijuana prescriptions can grow pot, along with firms that have state licenses to grow and supply state-approved wholesalers and retailers. Garden supply stores and nurseries would need a special license from the state before they could start selling seeds and young plants. 

The plants would need to be in a secure location that is not "plainly visible" from public spaces like the street in front of residences, the board said. Home growers would be responsible for fixing any odor issues that become a nuisance to neighbors, the state said. The odors cannabis plants may release — different from the smell of burning cannabis — can be offensive to some.  

Seed sellers must be licensed

One Long Island garden center owner said he doesn't expect a significant influx of customers looking for supplies like grow lights. LI Hydro, with locations in Bethpage and Islandia, serves most of the licensed pot farmers on the Island and has helped medical marijuana patients start cultivating the plant, chief operating officer and co-owner Adam Sussman said. He said most people "don't know or care" about their forthcoming right to grow at home, adding that the general public seems to have assumed that was already allowed.

"Most people think it went legal, and they're allowed to grow at home," Sussman said. 

Marcos Ribeiro, who runs a cannabis cultivation business with his wife, sees more opportunity. The Suffolk County residents plan to apply for a nursery license, which Ribeiro said would allow them to sell seeds and plants to home growers.

"I equate it to people that brew beer at home," he noted, saying it'll open up niche business opportunities, but "I don't think it's going to take out the [established] market."

Ribeiro anticipates most will want to grow outside, but some may be more serious and purchase LED lights and other equipment needed to nurture pot plants inside.

"If you go and put it on the windowsill, forget it," Ribeiro said. "You'll get a couple little buds, but that's it."

He said people should be careful that they're buying "feminized" pot seeds. If they unknowingly plant male seeds or seedlings, they will mature enough to develop pollen that — when blown or carried by animals to female plants —  spurs the female plants to produce seeds. Birds love these seeds and will transport them to other areas, where unwanted marijuana plants may sprout, Ribeiro said. Pollen alone can cause problems to lawns, gardens and other vegetation, he added.  

The state Office of Cannabis Management didn't respond before deadline when asked about Ribeiro's concerns and how the government would enforce the rules. 

Trying their hand at cultivation will show many Long Islanders that it's harder to grow good cannabis than they realize, said Ryan Andoos, who has a license to grow cannabis commercially on Long Island.

"To grow something with that type of quality takes a lot, and they'll see that once they start growing," said Andoos, co-owner of Route 27 Hemp Yard. "People will have a much bigger appreciation for the plant and for the farmers." 

Read the proposed regulations below. People can send comments to [email protected] or to the New York State Office of Cannabis Management at P.O. Box 2071, Albany, NY 12220. 

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Region: New York

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