BUFFALO, N.Y. — How many cannabis plants are you allowed to grow at home now that adult use of recreational marijuana is legal in New York State? How does someone interested in cultivating, processing, selling or manufacturing marijuana go about obtaining the required state license to do so?
These are among the questions that will be answered at a public event later this week on the University at Buffalo’s South Campus.
The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, in room 147 in Diefendorf Hall. Attendees can register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc1QETJSWsMEaO10JC4rQghX-T60jjHiW-qmOTsqdL8k_7Hqw/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0.
New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Chris Alexander, executive director of the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, will serve as keynote speakers and will provide an update on the implementation of New York’s cannabis program. UB School of Law alumna Aleece Burgio, who serves as general counsel for Western New York-based sustainable greenhouse consulting firm MJI Solutions, will serve as moderator.
In March 2021, state lawmakers passed a landmark bill legalizing regulated adult use of marijuana/cannabis. Peoples-Stokes was a key contributor to crafting and passing the bill that resulted in that legalization. But, as event panelist and UB cannabis researcher R. Lorraine Collins, PhD, notes, “It’s a complicated law and much needs to occur to implement it.”
That’s why it’s critical to have public events, such as the one on Thursday, to help people better understand how cannabis is being regulated in New York, says Collins, associate dean for research in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the school’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, and director of UB’s new Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
“This will be a great opportunity for people to hear more about what’s going on,” says Collins, who in 2018 was appointed to a working group created by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo tasked with proposing legislation on how to regulate cannabis use in the state.
“The discussion is very much oriented to engaging community members who are interested in growing cannabis, the cannabis marketplace, the social justice aspects of the law, those kinds of issues,” Collins said. “There will be presentations from a number of folks on the industry side of things.”
Collins will talk briefly about cannabis education and the need for more research.
The event will include a Q&A session allowing attendees to get answers to any questions they have about cannabis in New York State.
The public event comes as UB’s Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, created one year ago, ramps up its research efforts. The multidisciplinary center is headed by Collins and currently includes researchers from the School of Public Health and Health Professions, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Architecture and Planning, Law, Nursing, and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
The center’s mission is to improve the scientific understanding of all aspects of cannabis, such as investigating patterns of use by various populations, health and medical benefits, adverse reactions, and negative effects and consequences, including addiction. These issues also will be examined in the context of social justice and equity impacts of cannabis policy in historically marginalized communities.
“The center came out of my knowledge of what was happening with regard to regulation of cannabis in New York State,” says Collins. “Some of the people involved in that — Crystal Peoples-Stokes certainly comes to mind — are in our region and I think expect or look to UB to play a significant role in researching the many factors related to cannabis use and its effects.”
Collins received pilot funding for the center from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at UB.
“We have a year or so under our belt and now I’m looking forward to moving ahead with our activities,” Collins said, adding that she hopes New York State will soon begin to distribute much-needed calls for applications to conduct cannabis research.
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