Are you looking for New York Cannabis License Consulting? Learn how to win a cannabis license and start a cannabis business in New York from experts. Below, our New York Cannabis Consultants provide you with a step-by-step guide on applying for and winning a New York adult-use cannabis business license.

If you’d prefer to speak with our New York Marijuana Business Consultants, click the button below to schedule a free consultation:

Marijuana Application Expert in New York

New York Cannabis Business Consulting Firm

Rules and Regulations for New York’s Adult-Use Cannabis Industry

The key to winning an adult-use cannabis business license in New York is becoming familiar with the rules and regulations. For instance, the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) details the adult-use Cannabis Industry laws in New York.

The rules, on the other hand, interpret the laws and provide more specific details. But the adult-use cannabis rules are not published yet. Our New York Cannabis Consultants expect New York to publish the rules in January 2022. We’ll update this section once the rules are published.

Equally important, be aware that the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will oversee and implement the laws governing Adult-Use Cannabis in New York.  In addition, the OCM will issue licenses and develop regulations outlining how and when businesses can participate in the new industry. Our Marijuana Business Consultants recommend that you regularly check the information published on the OCM’s website.

Once you’ve reviewed the Act, the next step is for you to choose the type of cannabis license you would like to pursue.

Types of Cannabis Business Licenses in New York

Each cannabis business license in New York permits you to conduct specific operations.

For instance, if you want to sell cannabis or cannabis-infused products to consumers, you will need a Retail Dispensary License. On the other hand, if you want to grow cannabis then you’ll want to apply for a cultivator license.

Below is a list of the types of New York Adult-Use Cannabis Business Licenses that you can apply for (click link for more details on each license):

  1. Cultivator License 
  2. Cooperative License
  3. Processor License 
  4. Nursery License
  5. Delivery License
  6. Distributor License
  7. Microbusiness License
  8. Retail Dispensary License 
  9. On-Site Consumption License
  10. Cannabis Testing License 

Important to note, the Microbusiness license allows you to cultivate, process, distribute, deliver, and dispense your own cannabis products. However, as a Microbusiness, you will have a limit on the size of the operations.

Also, you’ll need a separate license for each facility where you cultivate, process, distribute, deliver, or dispense cannabis. Side note: There are limits to the amount and types of licenses you can simultaneously hold (more on this below).

Timeline for License Application

According to the Act, Adult-use cannabis sales in New York are scheduled to begin in 2022.

In fact, the Chair of the Cannabis Control Board Chair, Tremaine Wright, stated that:

  • the State will publish the proposed regulations in January 2022; and
  • before September 2022, the State will accept applications for adult-use cannabis business licenses in New York, as reported by MJ Biz Daily.

However, now is the time to begin preparing to win a New York Cannabis Business License. Reach out today to learn how our marijuana business consultants can help you win a cannabis license in New York.

Marijuana Application Expert in New York

Process for Cannabis License Applications in New York

Before we dive into steps on how to win a cannabis business license in New York, let’s first review the application process.

Keep in mind that the final rules and instructions for applying for a cannabis license in New York have not been published yet. But our New York Cannabis License Consulting team will update this section as soon as the final rules are published.

In the meantime, our New York Cannabis Application Writers have some insights into the process.

First, any person can apply for a cannabis business license in New York.

The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will provide applicants with a form and instructions for submitting an application.

You’ll have to submit information including but not limited to:

  • Applicant’s identity (including diversity);
  • Ownership and corporate structure;
  • evidence of good moral character (proven through a fingerprint background check);
  • information about the proposed premises;
  • financial statements;
  • and other information.

Again, our New York marijuana business consultants will have more insights into the application process upon the publication of the rules.

Selection Criteria for New York Cannabis License Applicants

Below, our New York Cannabis License Consulting team breaks down the selection criteria.

The OCM will determine whether to award you a license depending on your ability to demonstrate your plans to adhere to New York regulations. Another major consideration is your ownership structure and experience.

Furthermore, the State will grade your application based on the following criteria, which our New York Marijuana Business Consultants summarize below:

  • First, the applicant is a social and economic equity applicant;
  • Second, the applicant will be able to maintain effective control against the illegal diversion or inversion of cannabis;
  • Third, the applicant will be able to comply with all applicable state laws and regulations;
  • Fourth, 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;
  • Fifth, where appropriate and 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;
  • Sixth, the applicant qualifies as a social and economic equity applicant or sets out a plan for benefiting communities and people disproportionally impacted by enforcement of cannabis laws;
  • Seventh, 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;
  • Eighth, the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with a
    bona-fide 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 consideration to whether applicants have entered into an agreement with a statewide or local bona-fide building and construction trades organization for construction work on its licensed facilities;
  • Ninth, the applicant will contribute to communities and people disproportionately harmed by enforcement of cannabis laws through including, but not limited to, the social responsibility framework as provided in section sixty-six of the Act and report these contributions to the board;
  • Tenth, if the application is for an adult-use cultivator or processor license, the environmental and energy impact, including compliance with energy standards, of the facility to be licensed; and
  • Eleventh, the applicant satisfies any other conditions as determined by the board.

As you can see, New York will consider many factors when deciding who to award cannabis licenses to. You will want to do everything in your power to receive the highest score on your application.

Put differently, the license application is going to be extremely competitive. Reach out to our New York Cannabis Consultants to learn how we can manage your application from start to finish. We always aim for perfect scores and have one of the highest success rates in the industry.

Marijuana Application Expert in New York

Fees (Cannabis Application and License Fees)

At this moment, the State has not released any information on the exact fees for adult-use licenses.

However, based on our New York Marijuana Consultants’ past experience, you can expect to pay an application and licensing fee. Additionally, the Act does state that licensees will have to pay a bi-annual licensing fee, but the exact figures for each adult-use cannabis license in New York are not released.

Our New York Cannabis Experts will update this section upon release of the official rules.

Social and Economic Equity in New York

To increase your chances of winning a license, pay close attention to this section.

New York’s Adult-Use Cannabis Industry will implement a Social and Economic Equity Plan. The goal is to actively promote and prioritize applicants who are:

  • From communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition;
  • Minority or women-owned business;
  • Distressed farmers; or
  • Service-disabled veterans.

New York is required to issue 50% of all adult-use cannabis licenses to Social and Economic Equity Applicants. Since New York plans to award 50% of licenses to Social Equity Applicants, qualifying as a Social Equity Applicant is a “make or break” for winning a license.

Extra Layer of Preference for Social Equity Applicants

Moreover, New York’s cannabis board will give EXTRA preference to Social and Economic Equity Applicants that:

  • Is a member of a community disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition;
  • Has an income lower than 80% of the median income of the county in which the applicant resides; and
  • Was convicted of a marihuana-related offense prior to the effective date of the bill, or had a parent, guardian, child, spouse, or dependent, or was a dependent of an individual who, prior to the effective date of the bill, was convicted of a marihuana-related offense.

Below, we provide New York’s definition of Disproportionately Impacted Areas, Minority-Owned Business, Women-Owned Business, Distressed Farmer, and Service-Disabled Veteran.

If you’d prefer to skip these definitions and move on to the next section, click here.

Communities Disproportionately Impacted in New York

You may be wondering “What are Communities disproportionately impacted in New York?

As defined by the bill, Disproportionately Impacted Communities are certain geographic areas, such as but not limited to, precincts, zip codes, neighborhoods, and political subdivisions that have a history of:

  • Arrests;
  • Convictions; and
  • Other law enforcement practices.

These areas reflect disparate enforcement of cannabis prohibition.

The board will issue guidelines to determine how to assess which communities have been disproportionately impacted and how to assess if someone is a member of a community disproportionately impacted. Our New York Cannabis Consulting team will update this section once more information is released.

Minority-Owned  Business

To qualify as a minority-owned cannabis business in New York, you must have at least 51% ownership owned by one or more minority groups (Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and Pacific Islander Persons)

Women-Owned Business

To qualify as a Women-Owned Business in New York, you must have at least 51% ownership in one or more women and the enterprise must be a small business.

Important to note, a firm owned by a minority group member who is also a woman may be defined as a minority-owned business, a women-owned business, or both.

Distressed Farmer

A Distressed Farmer applicant is a company that meets the small farm classification developed by the Department of Agriculture. Also, the applicant must have filed a schedule F with farm receipts for the last three years, qualifies for an agriculture assessment and meets other qualifications defined in regulation by the board to demonstrate that they operate a farm operation.

Alternatively, you can qualify as a distressed farmer if the applicant is a New York state resident or business enterprise, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation, that is a small farm operator and a member of a group that has been historically underrepresented in farm ownership and meets any other qualifications as defined in regulation by board.

Service-Disabled Veteran

A Service-disabled veteran means persons qualified under article seventeen-B of the executive law.

Local Municipality Control

Cities, towns, and villages can opt-out of allowing adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries or on-site consumption licenses from locating within their jurisdictions.

In contrast, municipalities cannot opt-out of adult-use legalization.

Our New York Marijuana Consultants added the map below to show which municipalities in New York have opted-out of adult-use cannabis retail or consumption businesses (created by Mike Doyle):

Similarly, towns, cities, and villages are permitted to pass local laws and regulations governing the time, place, and manner of adult-use retail dispensaries and on-site consumption licenses provided that the local law and regulations do not make the operation of the license unreasonably impracticable as determined by the Cannabis Control Board.

For example, cities, towns, and villages are permitted to pass laws and regulations pertaining to local zoning and the location of licensees, hours of operations, and adherence to local building codes. Municipalities may not issue local licenses to cannabis licensees.

Our New York Cannabis License Consultants recommend checking the ordinance of the municipality to intend to apply in. You’ll want to confirm the municipality allows your cannabis operation type.

Reach out to our New York Marijuana Consulting team if you have any questions about garnering municipal support.

New York Cannabis Consultant

How To Win a New York Cannabis License

At this point, you have a solid grasp of New York’s adult-use Laws, Application Process, Scoring Criteria, Preferred Applicant status, and municipal control.

Now, let’s discuss how to win a cannabis business license in New York.

Step 1 – Read the Act

To begin, our New York Cannabis Consultants suggest reading the laws and regulations. More specifically, read the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) that legalized adult-use cannabis in New York State.

Similarly, you should be aware that the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will:

  • Oversee New York’s adult-use cannabis industry; and
  • Issue licenses and develop regulations outlining how and when businesses can participate in the new industry.

Thus, we recommend reviewing the material available on the OCM’s website. Additionally, you should sign up for email updates from the OCM website, if possible.

Step 2 – Choose a Cannabis License Type

While you reading the Act, you will realize that there are various types of marijuana business licenses in New York that you can apply for.

Accordingly, each license permits you to conduct specific types of business activities. So if you want a license, the first step is to determine what type of operation you plan to start so that you apply for the right license.

Once you determine the type of New York cannabis license that you will apply for, the next step is to review the regulations surrounding that type of marijuana license.

If you decide that you can meet all the requirements for that cannabis business license, then you will want to identify the location where you will operate your cannabis business.

Step 3 – Engage a New York Cannabis Consultant

Once you’ve chosen the license type, the next step is to engage a New York cannabis license consultant. A consultant will guide you through the entire application process, taking care of everything from writing the business plan to facility design.

Take the stress out of applying for a license. Allow our New York Marijuana Consultants to manage your cannabis application from start to finish. We have one of the highest success rates in the industry for obtaining cannabis business licenses.

Reach out today to speak with our marijuana consulting team in New York:

New York Cannabis Consultant

Step 4 – Form a business entity

At this point, it’s a good idea to form a business entity. We most commonly see applicants from LLCs or S-corps. But you should consult an attorney to determine what fits best for you.

Step 5 – Identify a location

The fifth step is to identify property that is suitable for the cannabis operation you plan to start.

For instance, do you plan to start a cannabis business in an existing building or would you prefer building the facility from scratch? Will you lease or own the property? There are pros and cons to both options and you should weigh them carefully.

You will also want to check the local ordinances of the municipality for your chosen location. For example, you will want to make sure that the municipality has no restrictions governing the type of cannabis operation you intend to start. Also, you’ll want to make sure your facility is appropriately zoned.

As such, we encourage you to work with our New York Cannabis Consultants for guidance on choosing the right facility.

New York Cannabis Consultant

Step 6 – Recruit a Team

After you have the location figured out, the next step is to recruit a team. A strong team will help you raise capital and receive a higher score from the State on your cannabis Application.

Ideally, your team should reflect your ability to operate a compliant and effective cannabis operation. We recommend recruiting a team of experienced cannabis operators or experts in a related industry whose skills will translate into cannabis.

For instance, if you are applying for a cannabis processor license, you will want to recruit a team of senior management with experience in cannabis extraction, or better yet, managing an extraction team.

Beyond relevant experience, it’s extremely important to build a team that qualifies as a Social Equity Applicant (see section above for more information on Social and Economic Equity in New York).

We understand that recruiting a team of experienced cannabis professionals can be challenging. For this reason, our cannabis consulting firm in New York offers talent acquisition services.

Step 6 – Develop a Business Plan

Developing a business plan will help you communicate your venture to interested parties. For instance, you can present your business plan to investors when seeking to raise capital.

Similarly, you can use your business plan to help build support from local municipal officials and community organizations. A professionally designed and elegant business plan goes a long way.

As an added benefit, you may be able to use parts of your business plan in your license application.

Step 7 – Raise Capital from Investors

If you are self-funding your project or do not need to raise capital, then you can skip to the next step.

For those who plan to raise capital, pay close attention.

From our marijuana consulting experience, we have found that the average start-up costs for cannabis retail businesses range from $450,000 to $1.8 million.

On the other hand, a cultivation or processing facility can easily require start-up costs ranging from $3,000,000 – $11,000,000 depending on the size of the facility and whether there is an existing building or not.

Start-up costs for cannabis businesses in New York typically include

  • Application and License Fees
  • Securing real estate
  • Purchasing equipment
  • Construction costs
  • Paying attorneys, accountants, consultants, architects, etc.
  • Talent acquisition
  • Travel expenses
  • First-year operating expenses
  • and more

Unless you have access to millions, you will want to put together a business plan and investment pitch deck to convince investors to fund your project.  It is important to develop detailed Pro-forma financial statements that show investors expected revenue, costs, and cash flows.

Luckily, our New York Cannabis Experts can help you craft a business plan and investment pitch deck that can help you raise capital.

To find out more, please follow the link below to speak with our cannabis consulting firm in New York.

New York Cannabis Consultant

Step 8 – Write a Cannabis Application for a New York Cannabis License

Finally, it is time to sit down and write an application for the cannabis license you would like to win.

The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is still in the process of developing the application that will detail the instruction for applying. Our New York Cannabis License Consulting firm will update this section once the application is released.

However, based on our experience writing cannabis license applications across the globe, we predict that the application will require you to write a:

  • Business Plan
  • Security Plan
  • Operating Plan
  • Marketing Plan
  • Seed-to-sale Tracking Plan
  • Employee Staffing and Training Plan
  • Diversity Plan
  • Community Impact Plan
  • Environmental Plan
  • and more

As shown above, marijuana license applications can easily reach the 1,000 – 2,000 page count. The State will use your application to determine if you qualify to operate a compliant, safe, and effective cannabis business in New York.

Thus, writing a strong cannabis license application in New York is essential for starting a cannabis business.

Luckily, Quantum 9’s team of New York Cannabis Consultants consists of expert cannabis application writers who can significantly improve your chances of receiving a top score and winning a license. We specialize in winning licenses and starting profitable cannabis businesses.

Additional Information from our New York Cannabis License Consulting Firm

Ownership and Location limits

Our Cannabis Consultants in New York Summarize the limits on the number of cannabis licenses a person may own. In summary, no person may have a direct or indirect financial or controlling interest in more than:

  • 3 adult-use retail dispensary licenses
  • 1 adult-use cultivator license
  • 1 adult-use processor license
  • 1 adult-use microbusiness license
  • 1 delivery license

However, a New York adult-use cultivator and processor can apply for one distributor license solely for distributing their own product.

Below our New York Cannabis License Experts provide further details on ownership and location limitations for each license type.

Ownership and Location Limits for Cultivator Licenses in New York

For New York cultivator licensees, you cannot also hold an adult-use retail dispensary license. Also, New york Cultivator Licensees cannot have any direct or indirect interest in any adult-use retail dispensary. However, the New York adult-use cultivation license allows you to operate in more than one location.

Ownership and Location Limits for Processor Licenses in New York

No cannabis processor licensee may hold more than one cannabis processor license. However,  a single adult-use processor license in New York authorizes processor activities at multiple locations. In addition, no adult-use cannabis processor shall have a direct or indirect interest in any New York Cannabis Dispensar Retailer or Medical Cannabis Company in New York.

Ownership and Location Limits for Cooperative Licenses in New York

According to our New York Cannabis License Consulting firm, a cooperative member shall be a natural person and shall not be a member of more than one adult-use cooperative licensed pursuant to this section.

Additionally, no natural person or member of an adult-use cooperative license may have a direct or indirect financial or controlling interest in any other adult-use cannabis license issued pursuant to this chapter.

No adult-use cannabis cooperative shall have a direct or indirect interest, including by stock ownership, interlocking directors, mortgage or lien, personal or real property, or any other means, in any premises licensed as an adult-use cannabis retail dispensary or in any business licensed as an adult-use cannabis retail dispensary pursuant to this chapter.

Ownership and Location Limits for Distributor Licenses in New York

No New York distributor shall have a direct or indirect economic interest in any microbusiness, adult-use retail dispensary, adult-use on-site consumption licensee, or in any medical cannabis registered organization in New York.

Any distributor with a direct or indirect interest in a licensed cultivator or processor shall only distribute cannabis or cannabis products cultivated and/or processed by such licensee.

Ownership and Location Limits for Adult-Use Dispensary Retailer Licenses in New York

No person may have a direct or indirect financial or controlling interest in more than three adult-use retail dispensary licenses issued pursuant to this chapter.

Similarly, no person holding a retail dispensary license may also hold an:

  • adult-use cultivation;
  • processor;
  • microbusiness;
  • cooperative; or
  • distributor license.

Additionally, our New York Marijuana Business Consultants would like to note that a retail license must demonstrate possession of the premises within thirty days of final approval of the license. This can be shown through a lease, management agreement, or other agreement giving the applicant control over the premises. It must be in writing and for a term not less than the license period.

Ownership and Location Limits for Adult-Use Cannabis Microbusiness License in New York

A New York cannabis microbusiness licensee may not hold any direct or indirect interest in any other license and may only distribute its own cannabis and cannabis products to dispensaries.

Ownership and Location Limits for an Adult-Use Cannabis Delivery License in New York

Finally, no person may have a direct or indirect financial or controlling interest in more than one delivery license.

It’s important to recognize the ownership and location limits for the license type you are interested in. Our New York Cannabis License Consulting team is available to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to reach out and speak with one of our New York Cannabis License Experts.

New York Cannabis Consultant

Selling your license and/or change of ownership

The board may wholly prohibit and/or prescribe specific criteria under which it will consider and allow limited transfers or changes of ownership, interest, or control during the registration or license application period and/or up to two years after an approved applicant commences licensed activities.

In other words, our New York Cannabis Consultants interpret this as license holders are guaranteed the ability to sell their license after 2 years.

However, there is a chance that you can sell your license during your first two years.

On the other hand, licenses issued to Social and Economic Equity Applicants shall not be transferred or sold within the first three years of issue, except to a qualified social and economic equity applicant and with the prior written approval of the board.

In the event a social and economic equity applicant seeks to transfer or sell their license at any point after the issue, and the transferee is to a person or entity that does not qualify as a social and economic equity applicant, the transfer agreement shall require the new license holder to pay to the board any outstanding amount owed by the transferor to the board as repayment of any loan issued by the board as well as any other fee or assessment as determined by the board.

The final rules regarding license ownership sales have not been published. But our New York Cannabis Consulting firm will update this section immediately upon release.

Who can apply for licenses?

Important to note, anyone can apply to cultivate, process, distribute, or dispense cannabis in the state of New York. In other words, both in-state and out-of-state residents can apply for a marijuana license in New York.

For more New York Cannabis License Consulting, reach out to speak with someone on our team.

Who can sell cannabis directly to consumers?

Are you wondering who can sell cannabis directly to consumers? Put differently, what New York cannabis business licenses allow you to sell cannabis to consumers?

To answer, the following adult-use cannabis licenses in New York can sell cannabis directly to consumers:

  • retailer;
  • hybrid retailer;
  • micro-cultivator; or
  • delivery service.

Useful resources related to New York Cannabis License Consulting:

Here are some additional resources that our New York Cannabis Consulting firm recommend reviewing:

Conclusions from our Cannabis Consulting Firm in New York

Our New York Cannabis License Consulting firm is ready to help you become a cannabis business owner. Currently, we offer various cannabis consulting services in New York, including application writing services, capital raising, talent acquisition, facility design, brand development, and more.

If you want to start a marijuana business in New York, save time, money, and headaches by allowing us to manage your project from start to finish. We’ve won licenses in over 27 U.S. States, so why not let the experts do the work?

We’re here to help. As global leaders in cannabis consulting, we have the resources to win you a license and help you become a cannabis business owner.

So, if you have any questions, be sure to contact us. Our team can’t wait to help you build your cannabis business!

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Julio Soriagalvarro, MS, MBA

Author Julio Soriagalvarro, MS, MBA

Julio is a natural product chemist turned consultant who combines expertise in the life sciences and business to provide consulting services across the cannabis industry. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs win licenses to start cannabis businesses in both medical and adult-use markets. As part of Quantum 9, they've helped clients obtain licenses and become cannabis business owners in 27 US States and 6 countries. He received an MBA from Indiana University, focusing on finance, marketing, and entrepreneurship; a M.S. in Natural Product Chemistry and Drug Discovery from the University of Illinois; and a B.S. in Biology from James Madison University.

More posts by Julio Soriagalvarro, MS, MBA

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