Kerry Trammel experienced several emotions last week when she learned she was one of just over 50 hemp farmers across New York state to be approved for a license to grow recreational marijuana.
“Once it became finalized I was a little bit still in shock, then excited,” said Trammel, who also owns The Releaf Market on Foote Avenue Extension just outside the city of Jamestown. “There were a lot of emotions.”
The state Cannabis Control Board last week approved 52 initial licenses that will allow cultivators to grow marijuana for two years. The plan is to give farmers of hemp — a type of cannabis plant with lower levels of THC, marijuana’s active ingredient — a head start to grow marijuana for the state’s upcoming adult market.
Trammel was one of three in Western New York to be approved for an adult-use cannabis conditional cultivator license, and the only one in Chautauqua County.
“I think them rolling out the licenses to hemp farmers is smart,” she said in an interview Monday. “We already know what the regulations are. … There will be more security than with the hemp process, more tracking than with the hemp, but it’s doable.”
More than 150 applications for a license were received.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, in an Associated Press report, has said the so-called conditional cultivation licenses will help “jump-start” what’s expected to become one of the nation’s largest legal marijuana markets. While New York legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults a year ago, statewide retail sales appear months off.
Trammel expects to plant for the marijuana in early June on an acre where she already cultivates hemp, as well as inside a greenhouse. She did not wish to disclose the location of her hemp farm, citing safety concerns, but said it is within Chautauqua County.
The growing season can be tricky. “If you plant before the first of June, you’re more apt to run into frost,” said Trammel, who added that there will be some “research and development” and trial and error involved in growing marijuana.
Harvesting will take place in the fall. After that, Trammel said, she will have some options to selling the product to dispensaries that eventually receive a license from New York.
“We do have the option to sell it locally,” Trammel said. “We do want to support the community — I want to support local as much as possible, but it depends on the licenses. The market will drive it, if Jamestown gets three licenses, Dunkirk gets two, then there’s more options.”
According to the Associated Press, state officials have said initial sales could begin by the end of the year under a program providing the first licenses to people affected by marijuana-related convictions. Regulations for the entire adult-use market are expected this summer.
The law requires licensees to provide training for people of color, women, disabled veterans and others the state terms social equity applicants.
“New York’s farms have been the backbone of our state’s economy since before the American Revolution, and now, New York’s farms will be at the center of the most equitable cannabis industry in the nation,” Hochul said in a prepared release.
There will be no marijuana dispensaries or consumption lounges in the town of Kiantone, where The Releaf Market is located on Foote Avenue Extension. The town, as did numerous municipalities in the county, opted out last year of allowing dispensaries and lounges. The move has no impact on growing marijuana, only on its sales.
A survey of Kiantone residents was conducted this year on whether the town should consider opting back in. Trammel noted the results were 130 against opting back in and 108 in favor.