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Saturday, October 16, 2021
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Everything You Need to Know About Adult-Use Cannabis in New York State

With adult-use cannabis now legal in the Empire State, the sky’s the limit for the budding marijuana economy.

Nope, that’s definitely not a skunk you’re smelling in Cousin Jimmy’s backyard. At the end of March, Governor Andrew Cuomo made New York one of 19 states to legalize adult-use cannabis (a.k.a. recreational marijuana). As of that day, anyone 21 years or older now can legally possess up to three ounces of pot and 24 grams of concentrates, and eventually, New Yorkers will be able to store up to five pounds (!) of marijuana in their home.

The passage of the law will not only spell an economic windfall for the State and its localities—it’s projected to rein in $350 million in annual tax revenue—but could also create 30,000-60,000 new jobs. A State Office of Cannabis Management has already been set up—and a Cannabis Control Board is imminent—to draft and implement regulations for medical and adult-use marijuana, as well as cannabinoid hemp (or products derived from hemp that can be consumed by people), going forward. At press time, nothing was stirring just yet on the rules and regs front. So don’t expect to be stocking up on Wedding Cake (a popular marijuana strain) at your favorite local dispensary anytime soon—unless you already have a medical marijuana card.

Since we still have a bit of time before reaching peak pot-leaf-peeping season in the Capital Region, Capital Region Living wanted to key you in on the basics of the local cannabis market. You’ll soon be ready to “roll.”

Education

Excelsior College – Albany
Talk about higher education! Albany’s Excelsior College is now offering a six-month online graduate certificate in cannabis control, which teaches students about the impact of cannabis legalization, tax schemes and risk assessment in cannabis control (e.g. cultivating).

Vireo Health’s grow facility in Tryon Technology Park in Johnstown.

Cultivation

Curaleaf – Coeymans
One of New York’s largest cannabis companies, Curaleaf has a 72,000-square-foot medical marijuana growing facility in the Coeymans Industrial Park, the first of its kind in Albany County—but currently no Capital Region–based dispensaries. That could change soon. “In New York, we have begun construction to triple our existing cultivation capacity this year ahead of adult-use sales and are actively looking at additional cultivation options to effectively serve the New York adult-use market as it comes online in 2022,” says Patrik Jonsson, Curaleaf’s regional president of the northeast.

Vireo Health – Johnstown
Vireo Health is set to double the size of its present-day 100,000-square-foot grow facility in Fulton County in the coming months.

Vireo’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephen Dahmer.

Dispensaries

Fp Wellness Medical Marijuana Dispensary – Halfmoon/Clifton Park
So you’re looking for a specific marijuana strain to help ease your lower-back pain. According to Fp Wellness’ Dispensary Manager/Consulting Pharmacist Katie Ogden, PharmD, current State regulations prohibit her from actually naming the best types. “It’s something that we’re hoping changes with time,” she says, “because in order to really home in on somebody’s needs, you want to know what the actual strain is and how it affects you.” While she can’t technically sell a customer “Wappa,” which would be perfect for back pain, she can list it using a three-letter abbreviation: WPA. If you’re going the consumables route, don’t expect to find any whacky chocolate chip cookies, brownies or lollipops there, which New York dispensaries are not currently allowed to sell. “The closest we have are infused gummies,” says Ogden. “But we also have capsules, powders and tablets.”

Verilife Marijuana Dispensary – Albany
Besides its dispensary in Albany, Verilife also has New York locations in Amherst, Liverpool and the Bronx, as well as others in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Illinois. Speaking of the latter, Chicago Cubs’ Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is a spokesman for the company.

Vireo Health – Albany
If you pictured a bunch of hippies in white lab coats and tie-dyed shirts passing out medical marijuana, think again. Vireo Health, which has a dispensary in Albany, has its own Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephen Dahmer, whose role is to not only test strains for potency, but also get in the weeds with the product. “We’re unique in that we’re currently participating in two largescale clinical trials,” he says. “We believe that clinical trial evidence and high-quality research can inform both a fun trip on the weekend and the treatment of chronic pain.”   

Will Levith
Will Levith is the editorial director of Capital Region Living and Saratoga Living.

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