(WIVT/WBGH) – Cannabis farmers in New York are looking to the state for a financial lifeline as they sit on massive amounts of inventory with few places to sell it.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo is urging Governor Hochul to sign the Cannabis Crop Rescue Act which would allow farmers to sell their marijuana to New York based Tribal Nations. The state first authorized nearly 280 cultivators to begin growing the plant last year with the promise that a robust retail sector for selling their product would be up and running by last Fall. Instead, the licensing and opening of legal dispensaries got bogged down, with only one opening at the very end of last year and just 20 stores and four delivery services operating legally today. And that number is now frozen as a legal challenge to the system has halted the awarding of new licenses.

Lupardo estimates that 250,000 pounds of cannabis from last year is losing potency, freshness and value at a time when this year’s crop is about to be harvested. Brittany Carbone is founder of Tricolla Farms in Berkshire which received a cultivating license because it had previously grown hemp. Carbone says many small-time cultivators are facing financial ruin.

Like the cannabis growers showcases, she thinks selling to Indian reservations could help a little but not nearly as much as having a full retail landscape. Carbone says the goals of New York’s marijuana laws were praiseworthy, but the implementation has been a disaster.

“It took two very vulnerable populations, justice involved individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and distressed farmers and made them even more vulnerable. Put them in a worse position than before this program. And that is truly the very, very heartbreaking truth,” said Carbone.

At its meeting last week, the state’s Cannabis Control Board finalized regulations for the recreational marijuana industry. Starting next month, it will open the market up to large, out of state corporate marijuana firms that can plant up to 1,000 square feet of indoor cannabis. And unlike the small-time farmers and dispensary owners, these big operators will be allowed to vertically integrate, meaning they can grow, process and retail their cannabis products.

Originally, the state’s plan was to give the small, independent growers and retailers a head start to establish themselves before having to compete with the corporations. Instead, they’re left with a lot of unsold marijuana and a lot of debt.

Tricolla Farms produces cannabis products under the brands TONIC and Sheba Baby! They’re sold at Just Breathe in Binghamton, Sacred Bloom in Vestal and William Jane in Ithaca.