Ten Capital Region growers among first licensed to cultivate marijuana

A marijuana plant flourishes under grow lights at a warehouse in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. New York issued licenses to several growers who aim to grow cannabis for recreational use.

A marijuana plant flourishes under grow lights at a warehouse in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. New York issued licenses to several growers who aim to grow cannabis for recreational use.

ALBANY The first group of farmers have received licenses to grow the first legal crop of marijuana for recreational use in New York state.

The licenses announced this past week are temporary and conditional but should allow enough time for planting and harvest this growing season, the state said Thursday.

The new license is restricted to those who have legally grown industrial hemp — marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin in the cannabis genus — in New York state for at least four years.

More than 150 applications have been submitted; 52 were announced as approved by the state Cannabis Control Board on Thursday, and the review of others continues.

Locally, 10 licenses were issued in the Capital Region, most of them in Columbia and Washington counties, and five were issued in the Mohawk Valley region, all but one of them in Schoharie County.

The names of the licensees are:


  • Phil Spinelli Farrier Service LLC


  • Aeterna Cannabis LLC
  • Claverack Farm LLC
  • Fat Nell LLC


  • Peter Pracilio


  • Terrace Corporation of New York


  • Brian F. Conlon


  • Cornucopia Growers LLC
  • ReliefLeaf LLC
  • Weathertop Farm LLC
  • Westkill Bend Inc


  • Greenleaf Cannabis LLC
  • Kennedys Herbal Solution
  • Outcast Acres Farm LLC
  • Slack Hollow Organics LLC

Four contiguous counties in the Hudson Valley appear to have the greatest concentration of licenses — a quarter of the 52 issued in this first tranche. That’s six in Dutchess County, three in Columbia County and two each in Ulster and Orange counties.

Ironically, no one in neighboring Greene County got one of the first licenses to grow the bushy green ganga.

As New York officials codify the new legal marijuana industry in the state, they are trying to shape it as a tool for equity and a redress for past policies. 

In recognition of the fact that a disproportionate number of the New Yorkers arrested on marijuana charges in past decades were members of underprivileged communities, they are trying to steer economic benefit to the same communities, now that the substance is legal to buy, sell and possess for non-medical use.

A decision earlier this year will reserve the first retail licenses for people who have been convicted of marijuana offenses in New York state prior to the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act taking effect March 31, 2021, or have a close relative who was convicted. 

The plan is to get those first retailers in business later this year, in time to sell the first New York harvest.

The growers announced Thursday will need to help advance this effort as they grow bud to supply the budding industry.

“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,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release Thursday.

Under the conditions attached to the Adult-Use Cannabis Conditional Cultivator Licenses, growers must:

  • Practice safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly cultivation practices.
  • Participate in a social equity membership program.
  • Engage in a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.

When Hochul signed the legislation creating the license in February, state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, said it would help build “the most forward-thinking and socially equitable cannabis industry in the country.”

There is no specific mention of racial or ethnic groups, but Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, stated the intent was to undo decades of unequal law enforcement by creating opportunity for the communities of color and individuals most harmed by New York’s war on drugs.

“Importantly, this legislation calls for a social equity mentorship program, which will create a viable and inclusive path for social and economic equity partners interested in cannabis cultivation and processing to gain invaluable knowledge and experience in this emerging industry,” she said in a February news release. “The temporary conditional licenses authorized by this bill will ultimately help realize the vision and goals of the MRTA.”

The new license holders can grow up to 43,560 square feet of marijuana outdoors or up to 25,000 in a greenhouse with as many as 20 artificial lights. Alternatively, they can do a combination of up to 30,000 square feet outdoors and up to 20,000 square feet indoors.

They’ll need to secure an adult-use processor or distributor license by June 1, 2023, if they want to help keep the bongs burning in New York.

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