State regulators have been tasked with getting the first, legal marijuana retail dispensaries open before the end of the year, but the work ahead of them may be too much to stay on schedule.
“I don’t think it’s a feasible timeline, unless you’re looking at individuals with pre-existing entities already built out and ready to go,” said Sarah Stenuf, CEO of Ananda Farms, which grew its first marijuana crop this summer.
In addition to developing a physical retail space, Stenuf identified a plethora of other concerns that need to be addressed before opening for business, including banking, insurance and staffing. “I don’t see that happening in 60 days, realistically. Maybe within six months, but not 60 days,” she said.
As recently as early October in an interview with the Syracuse Post-Standard, Gov. Kathy Hochul maintained that the state is on track to open 20 dispensaries before the end of the year and about 20 shops every month after that. The state Office of Cannabis Management received 903 applications for conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses, but has yet to award any licenses.
Until retail dispensaries do open, Stenuf is warning her fellow cannabis farmers to store their harvest properly. “Hold on tight,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a longer winter than we think.”