How to Apply for a Dispensary License in New York
The application window for New York Dispensary Licensing and for other cannabis license types opened on October 4th, 2023 for 60 days. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will take all of the applications and put them into a randomized process to re-order them, then review them in their newly established order. In this sense, you have no control, during this first round of licensing, over whether or not your application will be reviewed.
The number of dispensary licenses to be issued will be “500-1000” meaning a large percentage of all submitted applications will be reviewed, but for other license types, the likelihood of your application being reviewed is much lower. From page 2 of the General Licensing Application FAQ:
“In addition to AUCC and AUCP licenses that are eligible for transition, the Office estimates that over 1,000 licenses in the licensing application window opening on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, including provisional and final licenses may be issued. These estimated allocations include:
• Retail Dispensary: 500 – 1000
• Microbusiness: 220
• Indoor Cultivation (Tier 1): 20
• Indoor Cultivation (Tier 2): 20
• Processor (Type 1: Extracting, plus all activities of Types 2 and 3): 55
• Processor (Type 2: Infusing and blending, plus all activities of Type 3): 100
• Processor (Type 3: Packaging, labeling, and branding, including for the performance of white labeling agreements only): no allocation limit, Office will review on a rolling basis
• Distributor: 30″
If you are an indoor cultivator, for example, your chances of making the cut are extremely small, with only 20 licenses available, but it’s inevitable that more licenses will be issued over time. We just don’t know when at this stage (Join our email list for major announcements)
New York’s Two Tier Cannabis Licensing System
The OCM seeks to prevent retailers from having a monopoly, so they prevent retail cannabis dispensaries from also holding production licenses. In states where cannabis retailers can also be producers, they have favored their own brand and products at the expense of other producers who can’t easily obtain shelf space.
The only exception to the two-tier rule is for microbusinesses. Microbusinesses must cultivate, and they can then engage in processing, distribution and/or retail sale of their own products, including having a consumption lounge. Many applicants find this to be the most appealing license type, but it does have a canopy limit of 3500 square feet indoor, 5000 square feet mixed light, or 10,000 square feet outdoor. NY Cannabis microbusinesses can process up to 1700 lbs per year of outsourced biomass, or as much as they want of their own biomass.
For more information on a New York Dispensary License, check out our other website for the licensing support services we offer.
How Can we Help You?
At CS Consulting, our focus is on providing anything the regulatory agency refers to as a “plan” or a “procedure”. You most likely can handle all of the other licensing documents yourself.
When the OCM begins asking for these items, we will offer any plans and procedures that are required. This will include documents such as:
- A Business Continuity Plan (required for application submission)
- A Delivery Plan – Some CAURD dispensary applicants have already been asked for this.
- A Community Impact Plan
- An Operating Plan (required later, when you get inspected)
- An Environmental Plan (probably only required for indoor growers, at a later date)
- A Security Plan (likely required within 60 days of beginning operation)
- All other required plans and procedures, such as Packaging/Labeling SOP, Tax Compliance SOP, etc., that come up over the course of your operations.
Every document we call a “plan” is written in narrative text, paragraph form. Every document we call a “procedure” or “SOP” is written in step-by-step instructional format.
The templates we offer are written from the standpoint of a hypothetical cannabis business applicant. It’s as if you are getting to see a competitor’s completed application and can use it as a model create your own high-level custom cannabis application.
Our New York cannabis application documents will contain policy citations and links to the relevant regulatory text.
How to Get Cultivation License in New York
Cannabis cultivation licenses in New York can be obtained either by applying for a microbusiness license or for a standalone cultivation license. In these first 60 days of licensing, only 220 microbusinesses will be issued and 20 cultivation licenses. Of the cultivation licenses, only Tier I and Tier II will be issued. Tier I is up to 5000 square feet of canopy and Tier II is up to 12,500 square feet of canopy.
The applications for adult-use cultivator, processor, distributor, microbusiness, and retail dispensary license types will be available on New York Business Express (NYBE) starting Wednesday, October 4, 2023.
Is Opening a Grow Operation Profitable?
Making money in the NY cannabis industry, under any license type, will be easier for early entrants, simply because competition gets stiff when the market is flooded with participants. When the number of growers gets above a certain threshold, it becomes difficult to find buyers for your product.
What if I have No Experience Growing Cannabis?
Tip: If you don’t already know a lot about cultivating commercial cannabis and would be happy with having any kind of cannabis license, you’d probably be best off with a processing, distribution license or dispensary license. Processing, distribution and dispensary license types are cheaper types to operate, don’t require as much experience; not as much can go wrong.
A NY growers license will be the most difficult cannabis license type to operate, and the most expensive to set up. The pitfalls are plentiful for growers because of bugs, diseases, mold and the challenges involved with growing perfectly healthy cannabis plants.
How to Plan for a New York Grow License
- Have a healthy budget. Plan on spending upwards of $400 per square foot on build-out. This is because of climate controls, grow lights, and everything that has to go into creating clean-room conditions. Without a proper build-out, you will get mold, which means crop loss.
- Have some cultivation experience. If you have grown cannabis before, you know about all of the problems that can happen. You need the kind of experience that teaches you how to read the plants, in the same way that a cook smells, hears and tastes what’s going on with a recipe while it’s being cooked. It takes most growers at least 5 years to learn these skills.
- Know about diseases and bug infestations. New cultivation operations often fall into the trap of acquiring clones for a quick start, but then finding out that the clones have mites or hop latent viroid, or other pests. Physical inspection and quarantine is not enough, but it’s a start. A clone from the batch should be sent to a plant pathologist for clearance before they are brought to the facility. Or if you have a very well separated quarantine room, keep them in that room for no less than 1 month for visual inspection. Mites and other problems can take that long to become visible.
How Can I Plan Ahead for a Cannabis License in New York?
One of your highest priorities should be to find a properly zoned location where you have permission from the building owner, if you are leasing, to operate as a cannabis producer.
Understanding Licenses in the New York Cannabis Industry
The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is New York’s marijuana regulatory agency, and they have published rules and regulations that explain what’s involved in applying for a New York cultivator license.
There’s a lot of paperwork to gather that describes your business entity, contracts, and eligibility, and proves that you have permission to use your location, have sufficient funding, and have no serious criminal convictions.
How Much Will a New York Cannabis License Cost?
Total cost for a cannabis application in New York has many components. The first is the amount that the state will charge to apply for the license, which will range from $750 to $5 million depending on the license type and size. (see pages 79-87 of the regulations)
If you are interested in information on the NY microbusiness license cost, follow that hyperlink to our other website. Spoiler alert, it’s $4500, but it’s still worth going to our microbusiness page for much more detail.
There are other costs that need to be taken into account for planning purposes when it comes to obtaining a NY cannabis cultivation license, for example:
- If you are purchasing a property, your down payment could easily exceed $100k. If you are leasing a property, you’ll need a security deposit, plus enough rent money to cover you until you can harvest and sell plants. That’s going to run anywhere from about $30k to $150k, depending on the size of the property.
- You will need several hundred thousand dollars to cover all of your build-out and early operational expenses. This varies greatly depending on the size of the building and license type. For growers, figure $400 per square foot for a vertical LED setup, which covers equipment, materials, construction and mechanical installation costs. It’s a lot of money, but it’s good to know about it early on, so you won’t run out of money half way through the process.
Contact us today to learn more!
What Else Should I know About Starting My New York Cannabis Application?
The Cannabis Control Board, which is the agency that operates within the OCM, will likely ask for certain types of plans and operating procedures as you become operational over the next 12 months. These are documents that show how you will ensure adequate security to your cannabis facility, protect the environment, proper control of cannabis waste, good inventory control and record keeping, and maybe more. When you supply these things to the regulatory agency to maintain your permit, it will show them that you are administratively capable of operating as a successful license holder.
Licenses may initially be approved in a provisional status, which makes it easier for growers to get started while they are learning more about how to get all of the required documents together. With the previous and current holders of conditional grower and processor licensees, licensees were given 30 days to submit a security plan and up to a year to submit various other documents. Our services include providing all of these various plans and procedures.
Hi, I’m Jennifer Martin. I’ve been working on cannabis industry documents and application materials since 2016, and I’ve been designing and operating cannabis cultivation facilities for over 20 years. At heart, I’m a commercial grower, and I wish it were easy to legally set up shop anywhere and just grow cannabis plants for a living. Unfortunately though, many states are concerned about seeming too liberal about legalizing psychoactive substances, so they are making it difficult, if not impossible, to get a cannabis license. This is finally changing in New York!
We look forward to offering you excellent support as this process gets under way.
Contact us today to get started with your paperwork.