How to Open a NY Dispensary as a Justice-Involved Applicant


 New York Dispensary License Application Info for 2023

As 2023 rolls along, all applications for New York dispensaries require a “justice-involved” applicant. This is for social and economic equity for a marijuana-related offence committed in New York.

After the first dispensary application in New York, 150 conditional dispensary licenses will be granted. These licenses will go to individuals who have been convicted of a marijuana crime in the State of New York. Additionally, they must have owned a part of a profitable business for the past two years, or a qualifying non-profit.
How to open a dispensary in New York

New York dubbed the justice-involved round as the “conditional adult use retail dispensary license” (CAURD). In 2023, dispensaries in NY may expand to other applicants beyond the “justice-involved” applicants to other qualified applicants. 

We detail more on New York retail license applications here – contact our office for our New York Cannabis Lawyer and for assistance with your NY Cannabis venture. 

Here we discuss the steps in obtaining a weed dispensary in New York with a business license for adult-use retail marijuana sales in New York, but not the 3rd street dispensary. That one already exists.  This is about how to get a new license for cannabis retail operations in NY.

In this article, we’ll break down what you need to know about the New York cannabis business and how to apply for a cannabis dispensary license.

How Much does a New York dispensary license cost in 2023

Opening a dispensary in New York is not cheap. The cost for a cannabis business to obtain a license can be quite expensive due to the high level of regulations. In addition to the $2,000 fee needed to enter the lottery for a free location, it has been reported that the state of New York spends approximately $1.5 million dollars to build an approved dispensary location. This cost must be taken into account when evaluating the total cost of opening a dispensary in New York.

On top of the costs associated with receiving approval and building the physical location, there are other requirements and financial considerations that must be met before obtaining a license. These include but are not limited to:

  • qualifications on criminal background checks,
  • insurance coverage,
  • security plans,
  • environmental assessments and
  • training programs.

Due to all of these requirements, the estimated cost range for opening a cannabis dispensary in New York is between $500K-$1.5M USD depending on individual circumstances. Take note that in comparison many states across America charge between $5k-$25k just for application fees alone without considering any other associated costs or taxes required after approval is granted.

A $2 million dollar budget is realistic enough to get everything taken care of, but also have some room left over for any unexpected overages.  The cost is so high because of the highly regulated security requirements and because building commercial real estate costs on average $490 per square foot. 

How to Apply for A recreational dispensary in NYC 

If you’re looking to open a recreational cannabis dispensary in the New York legal market, then you’ll need to comply with the guidelines from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The OCM came out with their regulations in November of 2022.  Applications opened in August and September of 2022 – but only for “justice involved” applicants.  Other applicants can complete their New York dispensary application in 2023 when the program expands to additional eligible applicants.

Justice Involved Owner(s)

An individual involved in the justice system, or someone with a relation to them, who has a marijuana-related conviction in New York before 3/31/21 is eligible. Relatives include parent, spouse, child, guardian, or dependents.

Spouses include those individuals who were in a legal, registered domestic partnership because they were not  legally permitted to marry in New York State prior to the enactment of the Marriage Equality Act (June 24, 2011).

Individuals who can provide evidence they (or their parent spouse, child, legal guardian, or dependent) were arrested for a mariahuana-related offense before March 31 2021, are still considered justice involved if they were ultimately convicted of another offense, such as non-drug offense, violation, or misdemeanor.

Qualifying Businesses for JI Owners requirements:

  • The individual with sole control and 30% ownership of the applicant, must currently hold or have held in the past for a minimum of two years, at least 10% ownership interest in, and have exercised control over, a qualifying business;
  • That business must have had a net profit for at least 2 years during the time that the individual held the ownership interest in the business. The applicant must satisfy the qualifying business requirement to be eligible for CAURD

Questions that need to be answered:

  • Does the individual have or have they had 10%+ ownership interest in a qualifying business for at least 2 years and exercised control over it? 
  • Did this qualifying business have net profits for at least 2 years while the individual with sole control over the applicant held their ownership?
  • Did this qualifying business have a net profit for at least 2 years?
  • What percentage of the qualifying business did the above-named individual own?
  • What was the largest number of W2 employees on the qualifying business’s payroll when the above-named individual was an at least 10% owner? Please provide proof in the form of tax documents, such as a W3 form, receipts from insurance or health care, or similar documentation;
  • How many years did the business operate while the above-named justice-involved individual was an at least 10% owner? Upload two years of state, federal, or city tax documents from when the above-named qualifying business had a positive net profit and the above-named justice involved-individual was at least a 10% owner;
  • Was the qualifying business denied a bank loan in its first two years of operation while the above-named justice-involved individual was an owner? In that case, please enter the year the bank loan was denied to the qualifying business;

Open a dispensary for recreational cannabis in New York

The potential for the cannabis industry in New York is high, with estimates suggesting that it could bring in $4.2 billion annually. So if you’re planning on applying for a New York retail cannabis license when the process is released, make sure you’re well-prepared! The application will likely be competitive, so put your best foot forward. Stay tuned for updates from the OCM so that you can be one of the first to apply for a retail license in New York.

Marijuana has been legal for medical use in New York state since 2014 with its Compassionate Care Act. New York state’s medical cannabis program is much different than its recreational cannabis law. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in New York. The law provides for

The marijuana business license holders in New York are overseen by the OCM. The agency is like a cannabis control board that would issue licenses for growers, processors, distributors, nurseries, and retailers.

Currently, there are two types of marijuana businesses in New York: medical cannabis dispensaries and adult-use dispensaries. Medical marijuana dispensaries have licenses issued by the Department of Health and dispense medical cannabis, while adult-use cannabis dispensaries will have licenses issued by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) for adult-use retail sale.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act legalized recreational cannabis in New York

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act created many more adult-use license types. Experts believe the New York adult-use market needs years to mature after it legalized recreational cannabis in New York State. They include adult-use processor licenses, adult-use delivery licenses, cannabis consumption lounges, concentrated cannabis with the adult-use processor license, cooperative licenses, distributor licenses, and even nursery license types.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are authorized to sell medical cannabis products to patients with a valid certification from a registered physician. Adult-use cannabis dispensaries cannot sell medical cannabis products, but will only sell adult-use cannabis products that have been tested and approved by the Office of Cannabis Management.

If you’re interested in entering the cannabis industry in New York, you must research all of the available licenses and requirements. With the right planning, you can open up a successful cannabis business in this thriving market- even with on-site consumption sites.

Years after New York legalized medical cannabis, adult use is now here because of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).

Opening a Cannabis Dispensary in New York

If you are planning to open a marijuana dispensary in the state of New York, you will need to obtain a retail license from the state. You must complete a New York dispensary application to win a. This license will allow you to sell cannabis products to customers who are 21 years of age or older.

In order to be eligible for a retail license, you must also meet all of the state’s requirements for marijuana businesses. Once you have obtained your license, you will be able to begin operating your dispensary.

New York will issue retail licenses to applicant.  We don’t know the timeframe in which the application process is going to start, but people expect that licensed retail sales will start in 2022. First distribution licenses, cultivation licenses, and delivery services need to be figured out by the management board.

With the revenue generated by cannabis dispensaries in the billions of dollars and rising, these developments present a very lucrative opportunity. However, opening and running a cannabis retail location is a challenging business.

New York cannabis dispensary application requirements
New York Dispensary Application

You will need a business plan if you seek to open a dispensary in New York. There are several aspects that your business plan should cover. We explain these in detail below:

  • Product/Service Description – This entails how you plan to run the dispensary and its unique aspects about it. Try to be as specific as possible. Include details of the strains of flower you will dispense and where you will source them.
  • Market Research – This section includes the methods you used to identify your target customers. It focuses on how this data will affect your marketing, operations, and pricing. Always use concrete numbers (ideally verified by a third party) rather than estimates.
  • Competitors – Includes details on other businesses that you will compete with, either directly or indirectly. What are their strengths and weakness, and how do you plan to differentiate your business.
  • Leadership Team – This section includes a summary of your qualifications and those of your management team. You may include business development experience in other sectors, leadership skills, or customer service.
  • Financials – This section can be quite daunting. It involves formulating a clear and concise budget. You should include a long-term (say 5 years) financial forecast that includes operational expenses, net profit, and projected annual revenue.
  • All sources of financing – New York cannabis regulations have many disclosure requirements for the application. This is one of the reasons the application process to obtain the cannabis business license is complex and expensive.

Marijuana Dispensary Licenses in New York

Trying to find a license recreational dispensary nyc is very difficult and many people are asking when will dispensaries open in new york.  Marijuana businesses in New York State had a very small window to apply for a dispensary license from the state.

The Compassionate Care Act created  New York’s medical marijuana business licensing program.  It regulates production and sale of medical marijuana products in the state.  The adult use Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses should be coming in winter of 2022-2023.

Dispensary licenses are available for both retail dispensaries and cultivation centers. Producers who wish to operate a dispensary must also have a cultivation center license. The application process is open to both individuals and businesses.

All applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements.  These include being at least 21 years old and having resided in New York for at least two years.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and adult-use marijuana dispensaries are two different types of businesses in New York. Adult-use dispensaries will be licensed by the Office of Cannabis Management, while medical dispensary licenses are currently licensed by the Department of Health.

Medical marijuana dispensaries may sell medical cannabis products to patients with a valid certification from a registered physician. Adult-use marijuana dispensaries cannot sell medical cannabis products, but will only sell adult-use cannabis products that have been tested and approved by the state regulators overseeing selling cannabis.

Dispensary or Cultivation License in NY

You may apply for an Adult-Use Cultivation License in the state of New York if you are 21 years of age or older. You may additionally have one Processing License and one Distribution License, but no more than one Cultivation License. A cannabis-growing company can also apply for a Cannabis Nursery license.

To apply for a cultivation license in the state of New York, there is a registration fee of $10,000. In addition, applicants must be cooperative entities, meaning that all members of the cultivation team must be part of the same entity.

Licenses are valid for two years and require re thereafter. The cultivation area may not exceed 25,000 square feet. No more than five cultivation licenses may be held by one company.

dispensary licenses New York

To apply for a retail dispensary license in New York, you must submit an application and pay a $5,000 non-refundable application fee. One way to get a license is to have a medical dispensary license already.  For those candidates, they must also have been operational as a medical dispensary for at least two years prior to applying for an adult-use license. A dispensary owner can only open a maximum of three locations statewide.

medical marijuana card york city gov kathy hochul chris alexander state office of cannabis 200 million executive director 

Cannabis Packaging and Labeling Requirements Dispensaries Must Follow

There are packaging and labeling requirements for both medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis products. However, the requirements vary depending on the type of product. For example, medical cannabis products require packaging in a tamper-evident container.

It must include a warning label that states “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.” In contrast, adult-use cannabis does not require packaging in a tamper-evident container. But it must include a label that states “THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS CANNABIS. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.”

Cannabis Business Taxes in NY

Both medical marijuana and adult-use dispensaries will be subject to taxes. The tax rate for medical marijuana is 7% of the gross receipts, while the tax rate for adult-use cannabis is 20% of the gross receipts. However, medical marijuana dispensaries are exempt from the state sales tax. Adult-use dispensaries are not exempt from the state sales tax.



Cannabis retail dispensaries sell cannabis

You can check out the details on how to obtain a New York cannabis retail license application here. Obtaining a cannabis license can be incredibly difficult and costly. Further, there are usually are strict requirements for prospective dispensary owners.


How is medical marijuana different than Adult-use cannabis in New York?

It is only a matter of time before the cannabis industry develops into a multi-billion industry with cultivators processors distributors. Residents can take advantage of the various licenses coming to growers and dispensary owners. Going by the stipulations in the new bill it is a very real prospect that New York could soon become a cannabis haven. There is no telling what new opportunities may crop up in the process.


The cannabis industry in New York is growing rapidly. If you want to interested in open a dispensary, remember these few things you need to know.

Firstly, a you require a New York dispensary license application. Secondly, you can only own one delivery license, but you can apply for both a Dispensary Retail license and a Delivery License.

Lastly, Distributor licenses are available for those looking to act as wholesalers of cannabis products. With the right planning, you can enter the cannabis industry and be successful in New York.




Licensed to practice since 2008, Thomas Howard has represented numerous financial institutions in litigation to enforce their security interests.
Homegrown Cannabis Co's Cannabis Seeds


Licensed to practice since 2008, Thomas Howard has represented numerous financial institutions in litigation to enforce their security interests.

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