Struggling New York State Farms Turn to Legal Recreational Pot Production for Business

MILTON, NY — Adult marijuana sales will begin in New York before the end of the year, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management promised Friday.

All marijuana sold in New York must also be grown in New York.

On the banks of the river in the sunny Hudson Valley, cannabis consultant Michael Hart is growing one of New York’s first legal recreational pot crops.

“A healthy plant is the start of the game, always try to have a healthy plant, healthy seedlings,” he told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

Hart is working with Ulster County’s Hepworth Farms, which is switching from vegetables, like cucumbers, to cannabis.

“We’re seriously introducing it to the farming community as an alternative crop. Agriculture is so big in New York as an industry and also that we struggle with,” said Gail Hepworth, co-owner of the farm.

The state grants Hepworth exactly one acre for his crop. It is one of 200 struggling farms that have been granted conditional cultivation licenses as the state slowly ramps up production.

Hepworth will apply for a full cultivation license which will allow them to expand the acreage. The farm has been producing hemp for CBD products since 2019, so switching to marijuana is a natural progression, which doesn’t mean it’s easy.

From seed to seedling to eventual smokable bud, the stage of every potted plant grown in New York State will be tracked and recorded.

Strict regulations govern the production of a product intended to help users relax.

“Very, very regulated. So I liken CBD to playing little league baseball, and then when you get to using adult cannabis, to the World Series,” said Hepworth Farms attorney Jason Minard.

Hepworth believes he will bring a world-class pot to market.

“We have rich soils and we have beautiful air. We have excellent water,” she said.

An acre of green gold in the ground, the start of a fledgling business.

About Charles D. Goolsby

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