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New York's cannabis regulating body brings home growing for qualified medical patients closer to fruition

Medical marijuana in an open orange pill bottle
File Photo

Qualified medical cannabis users are a step closer to being allowed to grow and cultivate the plant at home. And, more than 200,000 records for marijuana offenses no longer illegal in New York State will soon be expunged. Those are the highlights from the latest meeting by the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.

Board members passed a set of regulations which will now be subject to a 60-day public comment period, after which the OCM may make adjustments based on that feedback and send to the board for final approval.

Among the regulations, qualified medical cannabis patients or caregivers may grow up to three immature and three mature plants per individual, or up to six immature and six mature plants per private residence. The plants may be grown on their premises, indoors or outdoors, but must be kept out of view of the public.

“Only certified patients or their designated caregivers participating in the medical cannabis program will be able to purchase seeds or immature plants legally from a registered organization,” said OCM executive director Chris Alexander. “And therefore, New Yorkers who are not in the medical program cannot yet grow and grow at home.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Alexander announced that more than 200,000 records of marijuana convictions are now being withheld from criminal background checks, and will ultimately be expunged. It’s part of a new round of expungements of marijuana charges that are no longer criminalized under New York State’s reforms.

An estimated 198,000 records were expunged in a first round in 2019.

“When completed, the actions of these measures will have expunged the records of over 400,000 New Yorkers, a staggering reminder of the impact that cannabis prohibition had on so many,” Alexander said.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.