New alliance of Cannabis processors formed in New York State

New alliance of Cannabis processors formed in New York State

New York Cannabis Processors Form Alliance to Advocate and Educate.

A coalition of eight licensed cannabis processors is launching a trade group, which they intend to serve as an advocacy organization as well as a clearinghouse for reliable information about marijuana manufacturing.

Founding members of the Empire Cannabis Manufacturers Alliance are all licensed New York processors that previously worked in the state’s hemp sector, said Mack Hueber, a founding member and president of Gen V Labs. They began forming the group early this year, amid the collective belief that processors need a larger platform to draw attention to policy issues that affect them, Hueber said.

The Office of Cannabis Management’s regulations often fall heaviest on processors, Hueber said. In addition to adhering to advertising and marketing standards, childproof packaging requirements and testing protocols, processors must adhere to strict limits on THC per serving and maintain Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards.

Meanwhile, there are 40 conditionally licensed processors, as opposed to hundreds of conditionally licensed cultivators and retailers.

“There are just so many facets of the regulations that impact this middle tier of the supply chain,” Hueber said. “Also, when you look at the number of processor licenses compared to the licensed cultivators and retailers, there’s less voices in the room on the processor side.”

Along with Gen V Labs – which makes ayrloom products – the Manufacturers Alliance consists of Hudson Cannabis, New York Hemp Oil, Naturae, NOWAVE, Hepworth Pura, Nanticoke Gardens and HPI Canna. The group has enlisted lobbyist Kaelan Castetter of Castetter Cannabis Group as an advisor.

Part of what inspired members to unite into a trade group has been continually changing regulatory standards for licensed processors, Hueber said.

“All of us have been operating under a variety of different FAQs, guidance, conditional regulations, final regulations,” Hueber said. “These frequent and unexpected changes can really cause confusion and frustration.”

Over the next year, founders want to grow the group’s membership, as they also advocate for legislative and regulatory priorities, Hueber said.

At the top of the group’s legislative agenda for the next year is advocating for a repeal of New York’s THC potency-based tax, Hueber said. Manufacturers Alliance members will also push for regulators to revisit regulations for packaging, labeling and advertising, which Hueber said is a huge drag on processors.

The parent company of Hueber’s ayrloom is Beak and Skiff, a Lafayette-based apple orchard that also makes 1911 brand hard cider and spirits. Hueber said that he acknowledges that a regulated industry like cannabis should have restrictions on packaging and marketing, but that the OCM’s rules – which ban things like neon colors, or drawings on packaging – are “draconian” compared to alcohol regulations.

“Alcohol is also a regulated industry that has restrictions on marketing and advertising, but those are much easier to work within than the draconian advertising rules for cannabis,” Hueber said. “What we’d like to see is at least something closer to what alcohol” companies are allowed to do.

The Manufacturers Alliance is also seeking changes to rules that prevent brands from engaging in in-store customer education at dispensaries, Hueber said. Currently there’s very little interaction allowed between manufacturers and consumers, which makes it difficult for processors to explain how their products differ from others with which customers are familiar.

In the long term, Hueber said, the group hopes to become a trusted source of information and well thought-out policy proposals. Rather than operating as a group that simply calls out bad decisions, the Manufacturers Alliance wants to operate as a partner with the OCM and legislators, Hueber said.

“We’re trying to show the regulators and lawmakers that we are the voices of the processor/manufacturing tier, so come to us with questions, concerns,” he said.

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Region: New York

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