STATEN ISLAND, NY — Mayor Eric Adams wants to install cannabis-growing greenhouses on the roofs of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings, but there are a few obstacles, namely the federal government.
While Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation in February creating a new conditional license that will allow New York City hemp growers to grow cannabis, the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis remain federally illegal.
Adams acknowledged the “federal hurdle” when asked about his idea at a press conference Tuesday after the dedication of a rooftop farm atop an office building in Bloomfield on Staten Island. .
The mayor pointed out that New York City has limited open space, which calls for creative solutions such as farmhouses and rooftop gardens. Adams also highlighted the job opportunities that could arise with cannabis greenhouses.
“I believe there is a great opportunity for cannabis to be grown on NYCHA rooftops with an employment aspect. And using a medical cannabis aspect of the building,” he said. “We we have to think differently about job opportunities and make better use of our roofs.”
Adams first mentioned his idea on April 9 during a panel discussion on issues related to state legalization of cannabis in New York State Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislatorsannual conference.
The mayor said the idea would involve residents of NYCHA properties with opportunities for them to staff and oversee greenhouses, Gothamist reported.
Olga Alvarez, spokesperson for the regional office of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), told Gothamist they had not yet been contacted by city hall about Adams’ idea, the outlet reported Monday.
Regarding the idea, Alvarez said, “There’s not much more to say, marijuana is illegal in public housing.” This is because NYCHA receives some of its funding through HUD.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Adams said he would meet with the federal government and agencies to discuss the possibility of a waiver to allow the public housing rooftop cannabis greenhouse project to flourish.
NYCHA declined Advance/SILive.com’s request for comment on the concept.
The agency receives a significant amount of HUD funding through annual grants. Cannabis greenhouses on the roofs of NYCHA buildings could jeopardize this financial staple.
State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), who has been a strong advocate for the legalization of cannabis and the creation of a cannabis industry in New York State, told Advance/SILive. com that she thinks Adams’ idea is “definitely worth pursuing.”
However, the senator noted that there would be “extraordinary security issues” involved in establishing and maintaining the greenhouses.
She reiterated that the main obstacle is the federal government and asserted that it is time for the federal government to move forward with legalization.
“Honestly, it’s time for the feds to get their head out of their ass when it comes to marijuana. Nineteen-plus states either have adult use or are about to continue adult use. Thirty-eight states have medical. It’s ridiculous. It’s already enough. They either have to legalize it or deprogram marijuana and let the states do what they do,” Savino said.
The United States House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Clearance Act (MORE)that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and remove it from controlled substances list, April 1, 2022.
The country will have to wait and see if history will repeat itself. A similar bill, the MORE Act of 2020, also passed in the House but was stifled in the Senate.
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