Tucked in the parking lot behind Village Hall, New Paltz began its very own “Cannabis Showcase.” Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, four local growers set up shop to sell to the legal community.
Thursday evening, Sept. 21, the growers had tents set up and a small crowd of community members checked out the products displayed and chatted with growers. Music was played by a speaker as the clientele purchased everything from pre-rolls to gummies to cannabis-infused beverages.
The minds behind the showcase are the owners and founders of High Falls Canna, Rick Weissman and Tricia Horst, located in Accord, New York.
“The reason why we’re allowed to do this is because there are not enough dispensaries in New York State and it’s taking time for them to open,” Weissman said.
Many growers in the state don’t have a market to sell their products because there’s a lack of dispensaries. There are 23 legal cannabis dispensaries in New York State and 200 legal farms that by the end of 2022, had $750 million worth of the product cultivated. “It’s really hurting the farmers because they have this great opportunity and went for it. Now they’re sitting on a product and it doesn’t last forever,” Horst explained. “This was meant to help the farming community because farmers have had a hard time over the years making ends meet.”
She said that some farmers put their life savings into the business but now have nowhere to sell their products. “It’s really, really a bummer. They’re really going to ‘Oh my God, how am I going to go on? I’m going to lose my house. I’m gonna lose my equipment,’ and they’ll lose everything. They’ve worked so hard. That’s the sad part,” Horst said.
Horst shared the importance of safe products. High Falls tests the soil for any chemicals or dangerous substances brought in by birds or insects. “We spend a lot of money on testing. We test for heavy metals so that the product in that container you get, whatever it says on the QR code with the certificate of analysis is in that product,” she said.
Growing hemp and cannabis can be a difficult process. The all-organic product at High Falls is grown in an industrial warehouse because the crop only grows within a specific environment. According to Weissman, the warehouse is set at 60 degrees with a 60% humidity rate. In this climate, “the buds are stable, they don’t get too dry, they don’t get too wet. If they get too wet they grow mold. If they get too dry, they just lose the quality,” Weissman said.
Horst explained the legality of growing hemp versus cannabis. Even though the two crops may look almost identical, there are more regulations for hemp growth. “With the hemp, you’re only allowed to grow that until it’s 0.3% THC. If it gets above that you’re in trouble because then you gotta get rid of a product,” she said.
High Falls was originally exclusively a hemp farm when the couple started the business in early 2018. Then, after statewide legalization, they expanded to cannabis while still selling hemp/CBD products. They sell to a few local and New York City dispensaries.
Horst said in the early days of growing hemp, the farm experienced multiple robberies. “We had just this beautiful crop and the first time they just came in and they just took the plants. They took 14 plants, pulled them out,” she said. The second time, the thieves cut the buds from the plants. Horst believes that the hemp was stolen to be resold as cannabis.
She spoke of another illegal activity that is still going on despite legalization — illegal dispensaries.
“There’s one building that’s right across from the dispensary that I delivered to and it’s still there. It has a big pot flower on the front. They don’t have a license. They’re not legal. They’re selling stuff from other states,” and according to Horst, it’s not the only one of its kind. 40% of the products in these illegal stores tested positive for pesticides, E. coli and heavy metals.
She also says she has seen illegal dispensaries post fake licenses on the windows. “They’re not getting closed down enough. They just don’t have the policing factor that was promised to close down the ones that are not legal,” she said.
In New York City there are about 1,500 unlicensed dispensary locations. Mayor Eric Adams started Cannabis NYC to regulate the industry, focusing on small businesses.
According to Weissman and Horst, New Paltz has been an extremely supportive community and the showcase has been getting a great turnout, including a visit by Mayor Tim Rogers.
The Showcase will be back up and running this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.