New York Cannabis License

New York Cannabis License

New York Cannabis legalization is official since former governor Andrew Cuomo signed the regulatory framework for the new law allowing incubator programs and business licenses for the personal use of marijuana for adults. Under the Compassionate Care Act, only ten medical marijuana companies comprise the entire medical marijuana business license types. The New York medical marijuana program was one of the strictest in the country so hire a lawyer, but time will tell if the recreational cannabis industry will be open for entrepreneurs like you to make a New York cannabis dispensary license application.

Legalization in New York has become law, but Governor Kathy Hochul’s new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), governed by the Cannabis Control Board, is still setting regulations on the adult-use cultivator license, adult-use cannabis retail dispensary license, and other additional documentation for the marijuana regulation in NY. Here we explain everything there is to know so far about New York License Application Process. Get ready to apply for a dispensary license if you want to operate an adult-use marijuana retail license.

What you need to know about New York cannabis dispensary license applications

Now that marijuana legalization in New York is official, any New Yorker 21 and older can apply for a cannabis business license to cultivate, process, distribute or dispense cannabis within the state for sale, with a mandatory non-refundable application fee required. 

New York applications shall be in writing, verified, and have other variables that contain information the Cannabis Control Board requires. Applications have to be accompanied by a check or draft for the amount required for such a license. If the board approves the application for a marijuana business license, it will issue it in compliance with its regulations. 

An additional marijuana business license shall be required for each adult-use facility at which marijuana retail dispensing, cultivation, processing, or distribution is conducted.

The board is authorized to adopt regulations establishing information that must be included on an application for adult-use cannabis license types that sell cannabis, including those of emergency rule. Information for a NY cannabis business license application for a commercial cannabis registered organization may include:

  • the aforementioned non-refundable application fee
  • First name & last name
  • information about the applicant’s identity, including racial and ethnic diversity
  • ownership and investment information, including the corporate structure
  • evidence of good moral character, including the submission of fingerprints by the applicant to the division of criminal justice services
  • information about the premises to be licensed
  • financial statements
  • any other information prescribed by the OCM’s regulation

What are the New York Cannabis License Fees

The OCM has the authority to charge applicants for licensure a non-refundable application fee. Such fee may be based on the type of licensure sought, cultivation and/or production volume, or any other factors deemed reasonable and appropriate. It also has the authority to assess a registered organization with a one-time special licensing fee for a licensed distributor organization, adult-use cultivator, processor, or marijuana retail dispensary license. 

The board has the authority to charge license holders a biannual license fee. Such fees will be based on the amount of cannabis to be cultivated, processed, distributed, and/or dispensed by the licensee or the gross annual receipts of the licensee for the previous license period, and any other factors. Lastly, the OCM shall waive or reduce fees for social and economic equity applicants. The empire state is trying to welcome new businesses with emerging agricultural products. 




Limited amount of Cannabis Licenses for New York

New York state’s OCM has the authority to recommend to the board the number of licenses issued to ensure a competitive market to ensure no licensee is dominant in the statewide marketplace or in any individual category of licensing, to actively promote and potentially license social equity applicants, and carry out the goals of this chapter.

Applying for a marijuana business license in New York can be a lengthy and complicated process. New York State currently has a limited number of licenses available, and the application process is extremely competitive.

To be considered for a license, applicants must first submit a lengthy business plan to the state. The plan must include detailed information about the proposed cannabis business, as well as proof that the applicant has the financial resources to get the business up and running. Once the business plan is approved, applicants will be invited to an interview with the state Cannabis Board. This board will ultimately decide who is granted a license to operate a cannabis business in New York.

There are two types of cannabis licenses available in New York: dispensaries and cultivation facilities. Dispensaries are allowed to sell marijuana products to customers, while cannabis cultivation facilities are responsible for growing and processing cannabis plants.

What is the New York Cannabis Social Equity Program?

The East Coast is making social equity a core aspect of its adult-use cannabis industry market, beyond the traditional disproportionately impacted areas that have been damaged by the drug war, or those that have been arrested for marijuana offenses. New York social equity expands its benefits to distressed farmers, and disabled veterans, delivery services may even be limited to social equity businesses, or they will at least be granted priority in the application process.

The board shall consult with the state cannabis advisory board and the chief equity officer to create a social responsibility framework agreement and make adherence to such agreement a conditional requirement of license renewal. The board promotes applicants that foster racial, ethnic and gender diversity in their workplace.

Each applicant must provide evidence of the execution of their plan for benefiting communities and people disproportionately impacted by cannabis law enforcement required for initial licensing under section sixty-four of this article.

Selection criteria for NY Cannabis Applications for registered organizations

The OCM and the Cannabis Control Board will develop regulations for determining adult-use license types and for whether an applicant should be granted the privilege of a license in the New York state, based on, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • The applicant is a social and economic equity applicant
  • The applicant will be able to maintain effective control against the illegal diversion of cannabis
  • The applicant will be able to comply with all applicable state laws and regulations
  • The applicant and its officers are ready, willing, and able to properly carry on the activities for which a license is sought including with assistance from the social and economic equity and incubator program, if applicable
  • The applicant possesses or has the right to use sufficient land, buildings, and equipment to properly carry on the activity described in the application or has a plan to do so if qualifying as a social and economic equity applicant
  • The applicant qualifies as a social equity applicant or sets out a plan for benefiting communities and people disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis law.

It is in the public interest that such license is granted, taking into consideration, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • That it is a privilege, and not a right, to cultivate, process, distribute, and sell adult-use legal cannabis 
  • The number, classes, and character of additional licenses in proximity to the location and the particular municipality or subdivision thereof
  • Evidence that all necessary licenses and permits have been or will be obtained from the state and all other relevant governing bodies
  • Effect of the grant of the license on pedestrian or vehicular traffic, and parking, in proximity to the location
  • The existing noise level at the location and an increase in noise level that would be generated by the proposed premises
  • The ability to mitigate adverse environmental impacts, including but not limited to water usage, energy usage, and carbon emissions
  • The effect on the production and availability of cannabis and cannabis products
  • Any other factors specified by law or regulation that are relevant to determine that granting a license would promote public convenience and advantage and the public interest of the community
  • The applicant and its managing officers are of good moral character and do not have an ownership or controlling interest in more licenses or permits than allowed by this chapter
  • The applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with a bonafide labor organization that is actively engaged in representing or attempting to represent the applicant’s employees, and the maintenance of such a labor peace agreement shall be an ongoing material condition of licensure
  • In evaluating applications from entities with twenty-five or more employees, the office shall give priority to applicants that are a part of a collective bargaining agreement with a bonafide labor organization in New York or another state, and uses union labor to construct its licensed facility
  • The applicant will contribute to communities and people disproportionately harmed by the enforcement of cannabis laws and report these contributions to the board
  • If the application is for an adult-use cultivator or processor license, the environmental and energy impact of the facility to be licensed
  • The applicant satisfies any other conditions as determined by the board
  • If the applicant is a registered organization, the organization’s maintenance of effort in manufacturing and/or dispensing and/or research of medical cannabis for certified patients and caregivers.

What are the limitations to New York Cannabis licenses?

No license of any kind may be issued to a person under the age of 21, nor shall any licensee employ anyone under the age of 21.

No licensee can sell, deliver, or give away or cause or permit or procure to be sold, delivered, or given away any cannabis or cannabis product to any person, actually or apparently, under the age of 21 unless the said person is also a certified patient and the licensee is appropriately licensed.

The board, on the recommendation of the office, shall have the authority to limit, by a canopy, plant count, square footage, or other means, the amount of cannabis allowed to be grown, processed, distributed, or sold by a license holder.

All licenses expire two years after the date of issue.




New York Cannabis License Renewal

Each New York cannabis license may be renewed upon application and payment of a fee.

In the case of applications for renewals, the board may dispense with the requirements of such statements as it deems unnecessary given those contained in the application made for the original license, but in any event, the submission of photographs of the licensed premises shall be dispensed with, provided the applicant for such renewal shall file a statement with the board to the effect that there has been no alteration of such premises since the original license was issued. 

Each applicant must submit to the Cannabis Control Board documentation of the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the applicant’s employees and owners before a license is renewed. 

The board has to provide an application for renewal of a license issued under this article not less than ninety days before the expiration of the current license.

The board may only issue a renewal license upon receipt of the prescribed renewal application and renewal fee from a licensee if, in addition to the criteria in this section, the licensee’s license is not under suspension and has not been revoked.

Each applicant must maintain a labor peace agreement with a bonafide labor organization that is actively engaged in representing or attempting to represent the applicant’s employees and the maintenance of such a labor peace agreement shall be an ongoing material condition of licensure.

Amendments to marijuana business licenses

In the case of changes in ownership and organizational structure. Licenses issued have to specify:

  • The name and address of the licensee
  • The activities permitted by the license
  • The land, buildings, and facilities that may be used for the licensed activities of the licensee
  • A unique license number is issued by the board to the licensee
  • Such other information as the Board shall deem necessary to ensure compliance with this chapter.

Upon application of a license to the board, a license may be amended to allow the license holder to relocate within the state, to add or delete licensed activities or facilities, or amend the ownership or organizational structure of the entity that is the licensee. The board will establish a fee for such amendments.

A license will become void by a change in ownership, substantial corporate change, or location without the prior written approval of the board. The board may promulgate regulations allowing for certain types of changes in ownership without the need for prior written approval. “Substantial corporate change” means:

  •  For a corporation, a change of eighty percent or more of the officers and/or directors, or a transfer of eighty percent or more of stock of such corporation, or an existing stockholder obtaining eighty percent or more of the stock of such corporation; or
  • For a limited liability company, a change of eighty percent or more of the managing members of the company, or a transfer of eighty percent or more of ownership interest in said company, or an existing member obtaining a cumulative of eighty percent or more of the ownership interest in said company

What are the types of New York Cannabis business licenses?

Update: On March 27, 2021, state lawmakers reached a deal to allow sales of recreational marijuana.

The agreement was reached to set up a licensing and taxation system for recreational sales. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill on March 30, which is the earliest they could consider it.

Legislative leaders hope to vote on the budget on March 31 to meet the deadline of having a budget in place by April 1.

The legislation would take effect immediately if passed but for sales to start, New York has to set up rules and a cannabis board first. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes recently estimated it could take 18 months to two years for sales to start.

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in NY?

Opening a cannabis dispensary in New York requires a cannabis business license from the state. The cost of the license will depend on the size and location of the dispensary, as well as the type of cannabis products that will be sold, and the cost may vary from $300 to $3,500.

In addition to the license fee, dispensary owners will also need to pay for liability insurance, security, and rent. For a small marijuana dispensary business in a rural area, the total cost could be as low as $50,000. However, for a large dispensary in New York City, the cost could be closer to $1 million. Before opening a dispensary, it is important to research the costs involved and make sure that you have the necessary funds in place.

What licenses are needed to start a dispensary in New York?

In order to open a cannabis dispensary in New York, you will need to obtain a cannabis business license from the state. In addition, you will need to obtain a cannabis dispensary license from the New York Department of Health. These licenses are necessary in order to comply with state and federal laws regarding the sale, distribution, production, and processing of marijuana and the cannabinoid hemp industry. Once you have obtained these licenses, you will be able to open your dispensary and begin serving customers.

How much is a cannabis grower license in NY?

If you’re looking to start a cannabis grower business in New York, you need to obtain an adult-use conditional cultivator license from the New York State Business Express site. The application fee for this type of marijuana business license is $2,000.

If you’re planning on operating a cannabis grower business in New York, you also need to create a business framework to operate your marijuana project. This includes creating a business plan, leasing or buying the correct farm, hiring staff, investing in security, training, marketing, and legal assistance, and any additional cost that comes with any business.

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.
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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