As New York continues to roll out a new round of recreational cannabis licenses, Syracuse still has only one legal dispensary, among just about two dozen statewide.  

However, there are ten timesas many growers — 270 — in New York, and some are still struggling to find a market for their product more than a year after the first licenses went out.

Eric Peterson, who runs R&R Farms in Onondaga County, is one of the farmers feeling the bottleneck.

“I can’t see how everybody can keep going keep spending money and spending money with no outlets for us. That’s the thing that’s hurting us the most,” said Peterson.

In August, following a lawsuit over licensing procedures, a judge issued an injunction against the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), blocking the state agency from processing or approving most Conditional Adult-Use Recreational Dispensary (CAURD) license applications.

That has slowed the number of new dispensaries opening in the state to a trickle.  

David Dzielak, who runs 4 Erratic Farm in Skaneateles, says he hasn’t sold anything since entering the recreational marijuana business and, like most growers, he cannot make the end products himself.  

“None of the farmers have the ability to make gummies or vapes or anything,” said Dzielak. “It’s the processors that do all of that and they’re actually working at a pretty good clip but, again, the product is just accumulating.”

Without enough outlets to sell to, Dzielak, like some farmers, pays processors to turn some of his plants into a longer-lasting resin.  But other forms of cannabis, like the smokeable flower Peterson hopes to sell, don’t last as long in storage.

When that shelf life expires, Peterson says the only other option is to destroy the product, and he doesn’t see the situation improving anytime soon.

“I don’t care if they issue 300 more licenses tomorrow, for dispensaries,” said Peterson. “Those people … are so far away from being up and running for retail sales because of all the compliance stuff that they have to meet for New York State and the OCM.”

Peterson says the new licensees will be lucky if they can open their retail stores in the coming months. Meanwhile, dozens of farmers are still stuck trying to sell their cannabis to just a handful of legal dispensaries.

 Syracuse’s recreational cannabis industry faces a bottleneck as licensing disputes limit dispensaries, leaving many growers struggling to find markets for their products.  Read More