Building an equitable cannabis industry that ensures prosperity for thousands of local NYS businesses, not just a few big corporations.
This is the main mission of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association (NYCGPA): to work toward creating an “engaged community of farmers and cannabis advocates.” This association represents the cannabis industry’s farmers, processors, and businesses.
The NYCGPA started as a small group three years ago, then consisting of five people and one lobbyist, and has expanded to around 250 members as of Jan. 2022. They believe in environmental sustainability, focusing on conscious consumerism, and working toward building the cannabis community. Conscious consumerism helps achieve sustainability in decreasing human waste, pollution, and mass production.
According to the NYCGPA, they believe it is important to have a positive environmental and social impact within the cannabis industry, and they do this by helping small and mid-scale producers. When bigger cannabis industries take over, smaller businesses tend to fizzle out of the market. The NYCGPA aims to be as inclusive as possible by advocating for these smaller businesses and maintaining a strong relationship with the community.
There are many small cannabis businesses that will pop up in New York State following the legalization of recreational cannabis, but bigger corporations pose the problem of monopolizing the industry, running them out of business. These bigger cannabis businesses don’t always act in the interests of the environment or the community—just whatever makes a bigger profit.
Because of this, the NYCGPA currently has six goals on their legislative agenda.
Their first goal is to put New York cultivators first instead of larger corporations. They believe that New York-based small cannabis businesses should have a fair chance to participate in the market from the get-go. The best way to do this is to give these small businesses adequate time to prepare their operations ahead of expected dispensary openings. This organization is pushing for the legislature to direct the CCB to authorize, with the required regulations, as many individually licensed cultivators as possible to meet the increased demand the market will bring when recreational cannabis sales begin.
The NYCGPA’s second goal is to reduce the tax burden from the New York State and federal tax codes in regard to 280E. Cannabis businesses are currently unable to take ordinary and necessary business reductions thanks to federal prohibition. This means cannabis businesses will have to pay as much as 75% in taxes. To counteract this, the NYCGPA encourages the passage of a bill proposed by Senator Cooney, S7518, that would allow these businesses to make these necessary tax deductions without having to deal with any tax burdens affiliated with 280E of the Internal Revenue Code.
This organization’s third goal is to remove the prohibition on processors. The NYCGPA states on their website, “The NYCGPA supports the removal of language from Article IV, § 69(3) that prohibits hemp activities on the same premises as adult-use licensed activities.” This can easily be achieved if the legislature removes the prohibitory language in Article IV so these processors with adult-use and hemp operations can continue. This is done to keep locally owned operators on an even playing field with funded medical registered organizations, allowing them to keep their businesses afloat.
Their fourth goal is to remove the THC-based excise tax prior to new regulations. Taxing businesses based on THC level is a risky move already, and the NYCGPA is urging the legislature to remove this tax before there are negative consequences for smaller businesses. This tax could lead to miscalculated taxes from smaller businesses as well as disproportionate pricing between products.
The NYCGPA’s fifth goal is to ensure equity in the cannabis marketplace. This organization believes that vertical integration should be restricted for registered organizations, a change that can be made if the legislature were to modify the Cannabis Law. They believe that all organizations, registered and adult-use licensees, should be given equal opportunity within the marketplace.
Their sixth and final goal is to define cannabis as an agricultural crop in the current Agricultural & Markets Law. Without cannabis being recognized legally as an agricultural crop, cultivators are not given the same legal protections concerning land use, taxes, and zoning. These protections, such as tax exemptions, are important for cultivators when purchasing necessary materials and vehicles used in the cultivation process. A solution for this is for the legislature to define cannabis as an agricultural crop by amending subdivision 2 of section 301 of the Agriculture & Markets Law as well as paragraph 6 of subdivision (a) of section 1115 of the Tax Law to provide tax exemptions for cultivators.
The NYCGPA has worked hard over the past three years to advocate for and encourage smaller businesses to have a level playing field with larger corporations in the cannabis industry. They believe that by helping these smaller businesses prosper, it will bring about a “vibrant, diverse, and sustainable cannabis industry.”
“Our industry is strongest when New York small and midscale farms prosper.”
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