How to Open a Dispensary in New York

New York Dispensary License 2022

New York Dispensaries are going to be very “justice involved” in 2022. The first conditional dispensary licenses will all go to peopleHow to open a dispensary in New York that have been convicted of a marijuana crime in the State of New York and that have owned a part of a profitable business for the past two years, or a qualifying non-profit. 

But most importantly, you’ll need to know what’s involved in obtaining a marijuana business license for adult use retail marijuana sales in New York.

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

How to Open a New York Dispensary for Adult Use Cannabis

Before we get started, let’s first understand marijuana’s legality in the state and how it’s progressed. Interested in starting an adult-use dispensary in New York? Keep reading. The New York cannabis market will be one of the best programs for adult use cannabis licenses when compared to other adult use markets. Lots of cannabis plants are in the Empire State’s future.

If you’re looking to open a dispensary in the recreational cannabis market in New York, you’ll need to wait for the guidelines from the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). This organization is still in its infancy, so there are many details that have yet to be released. However, we do know that the OCM will be responsible for issuing adult-use dispensary licenses for New York, but also license revocation for those who fail to comply with the rules.

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 dispensary 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 dispensary license in New York. Good luck!

Open a dispensary for recreational cannabis 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 are licensed by the Department of Health and dispense medical cannabis, while adult-use cannabis dispensaries will be licensed by the Office of Cannabis Management 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 that will take years for the New york adult use market to mature when it legalize recreational cannabis in New York State. They include: adult use processor license, adult use delivery licenses, cannabis consumption lounges, concentrated cannabis with the adult use processor license, cooperative license, distributor license, 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 will not be authorized to 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, be sure to 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. 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 dispensary license, you must have a physical location for your business and 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 applicants, although we don’t know the timeframe in which the application process is going to start, it is expected that licensed retail sales would 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 dispensary is a challenging business venture:

  • Opening a dispensary requires a lot of considerations, compliance with numerous regulations and a significant amount of capital. 
  • Costs to open your doors could run from $500,000 upwards of millions depending on real estate costs and the size of the operation.
  • Many cannabis dispensaries are selling millions of dollars of product a month
  • Competition for new dispensaries tends to be fierce.

Application for your Cannabis Business Dispensary Licensehow to open a dispensary

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. These are explained in detail below:

  • Product/Service Description – This entails how you plan to run the dispensary and the 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 and how this data will affect your marketing, operations and pricing. Always use concrete numbers (ideally verified by a third party) rather than estimates. Reach out to adult use cultivator license holders to see what products are trending. Local cannabis restrictions may apply where you want to operate as well.
  • 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 dispensary regulations have many disclosure requirements for the application, which is one of the reasons the application process to obtain the cannabis business license is complex and expensive.

Marijuana Dispensary Licenses in New York

Marijuana businesses in New York State can now apply for a dispensary license from the state. The new marijuana business licensing program, created as part of the Compassionate Care Act, will regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana products in the state.

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, including 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 are authorized to sell medical cannabis products to patients with a valid certification from a registered physician. Adult use marijuana dispensaries will not be authorized to 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. If you apply for an Adult-Use Dispensary License in New York, you may not apply for any additional licenses unless you are a previously medical marijuana licensed company. Prior to submitting your application, make sure to consult with an attorney familiar with the cannabis industry to ensure compliance with all state regulations. Pick your path for your New York cannabis business either adult use cultivator, or open a dispensary.

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 must be renewed thereafter. The cultivation area may not exceed 25,000 square feet. No more than five cultivation licenses may be held by one company.

To apply for a retail dispensary license in New York, you must submit an application and pay a $5,000 non-refundable application fee. Applicants must also have been operational as a medical dispensary for at least two years prior to applying for an adult-use license. Dispensaries are limited to a maximum of three locations statewide.

Cannabis nurseries in New York are licensed separately from cultivation and dispensaries. To apply for a nursery license, you must apply and pay a $2,500 non-dispensary licenses New Yorkrefundable application fee. Nurseries are limited to supplying cannabis clones and seedlings to cultivators and processors licensed by the state.

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 must be packaged in a tamper-evident container and must include a warning label that states “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.” In contrast, adult-use cannabis does not have to be packaged in a tamper-evident container, but must include a label that states “THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS CANNABIS. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.”

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 cannabis dispensary license here. Obtaining a cannabis license can be incredibly difficult and costly. Further, there usually are strict requirements for prospective dispensary owners.


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

With the new law set to take effect soon it is only a matter of time before the cannabis industry develops into a multi-billion industry. Residents can take advantage of the various licenses set to be issued out for 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 and there is no telling what new opportunities may crop up in the process.

Business plans you will need to open a dispensary in New York

There are a lot of things to consider as you prepare to make your application as a cannabis dispensary. If you are looking to apply for the license then you will probably need the following business plans;

  • Financial plan
  • Marketing plan
  • Security plan
  • Suitability of proposed facility
  • Staffing plan
  • Plan with which to educate patients
  • Inventory control


The cannabis industry in New York is growing rapidly. If you’re interested in opening a dispensary, there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, you must be a previously registered medical marijuana organization to apply for an Adult-Use Dispensary License. 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.

With the right motivation and access to necessary resources, our office can help you successfully start a profitable cannabis dispensary in New York. Although it is important to note that this process takes time even when you have the resources.

Given the licensure steps, finding a suitable location and developing your storefront to meet the state requirements, it may take well over a year from application to selling.

Remember: the cannabis industry is heavily regulated and getting help from industry, and business experts is recommendable.

And lastly, don’t miss out on our Marijuana Legalization Map where you can browse the current status of laws in every state in the United States and see all our posts on each of them.



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


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

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