Would you like help with your New York cannabis business license application? If you answered yes, then you’re in the right place. In this article, our New York cannabis license consulting team provides you with a step-by-step guide on how to apply for and win an adult-use cannabis business license. Quantum 9 has won cannabis licenses across the globe in the most competitive licensing rounds. Here we share with you our secrets to winning.
We’ll first discuss the cannabis licensing landscape in New York, including an overview of the laws and the application process. Afterward, our New York cannabis business consultants provide you with a guide you can use to increase your chances of winning a license. But if you’d prefer to speak with our cannabis consultants in New York directly, fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
New York Cannabis Business Consulting Firm
Laws and Regulations
To begin, our New York cannabis consultants recommend starting your journey by familiarizing yourself with the cannabis laws and regulations in New York.
Here are the most important documents you should read:
- Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA);
- New York’s Cannabis Laws; and
- Proposed Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations.
Equally important, be aware that the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) will govern the adult-use cannabis industry in New York, including licensing. Our New York Marijuana Business Consultants recommend regularly checking the information published on the OCM’s website.
Now let’s discuss timelines.
Timeline for License Application
As of November 2022, New York has issued its first batch of adult-use cannabis licenses to current hemp cultivators/manufacturers and conditional adult-use Dispensaries.
This early batch of New York cannabis licenses was for a select group of individuals (hemp operators, justice-involved individuals, etc.). Now, New York is preparing to accept applications from the public at large. While the exact date has not been established, it is estimated the OCM will begin accepting applications for adult-use New York cannabis business licenses in the second quarter of 2022.
However, you should begin preparing now to improve your chances of winning a New York cannabis business license.
Once you’ve reviewed the laws and familiarized yourself with the OCM’s website, you should begin choosing the type of New York cannabis business license you would like to apply for.
Types of Cannabis Business Licenses in New York
Below is a list of the types of New York Adult-Use Cannabis Business Licenses that you can apply for:
- Cultivator License
- Cooperative License
- Processor License
- Nursery License
- Delivery License
- Distributor License
- Microbusiness License (cultivation, processing, distribution, delivery, and dispense)
- Retail Dispensary License
- On-Site Consumption License
- Cannabis Testing License
You can click the links above for a specific breakdown of each license type. However, I recommend finishing this article first and then revisiting the links.
Also, our New York cannabis consultants want to emphasize that you’ll need a separate license for each facility where you cultivate, process, distribute, deliver, or dispense cannabis. There are also limits to the number and types of licenses you can simultaneously hold (more on this below).
Application Process for New York Cannabis License
In short, to apply for a New York cannabis cultivator or processors license, you’re required to submit:
- Ownership information
- Organizational Structure Documents
- Financial Disclosure Information
- Organizational Chart
- Floor and Site Plans
- Facility Renderings
- Operating Plan
- Community Impact Plan
- Environmental Plan
- Application Fee
- and more
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, team experience, moral character, and financial ability to execute your plans.
You will want to do everything in your power to receive the highest score on your application. Put differently, applying for a New York cannabis license will be 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 (90.12%).
Fees (Cannabis Application and License Fees)
You’ll have to pay a non-refundable application fee of $2,000 to apply for a New York conditional cultivator license. For the rest of the licenses, New York has not yet published the fees. Our New York cannabis consultants will update this section as information is released.
Social and Economic Equity in New York
New York’s Adult-Use Cannabis Industry will implement a Social and Economic Equity program. 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.
In the appendix, we provide New York’s definition of Disproportionately Impacted Areas, Minority-Owned Business, Women-Owned Business, Distressed Farmer, and Service-Disabled Veteran (found here).
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):
Additionally, the Rockefeller Institute of Government also created an in-depth opt-out tracker that you can use. The Rockefeller tracker may be a bit easier to navigate than the map shown here.
Additionally, you should check the ordinance of the municipality you intend to apply in. You’ll want to confirm the municipality allows your cannabis operation type.
How To Win a New York Cannabis License
At this point, you have a solid grasp of New York’s adult-use laws, the application process, scoring criteria, preferred applicant status, and municipal control.
Now, let’s discuss how to apply for and 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 and reviewing the material available on the OCM’s website, as described above. Additionally, you should sign up for email updates from the OCM website, if possible.
Step 2 – Choose a Cannabis License Type
While you’re reading the laws, 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.
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, such as the consultants at Quantum 9, will guide you through the entire application process, taking care of everything from writing the plans and SOPs to team recruitment and more.
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 (90.12%) Reach out today to speak with our marijuana consulting team in New York.
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 to build 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.
Step 6 – Recruit a Team
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 New York cannabis license 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.
Step 7 – 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 New York cannabis license application.
Step 8 – Raise Capital from Investors
Over a decade of helping entrepreneurs start cannabis companies, 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 to ~$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
- Construction costs
- Purchasing Equipment
- Paying attorneys, accountants, consultants, architects, etc.
- 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, fill out a contact form to speak with our cannabis consulting firm in New York.
Step 9 – 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.
New York is still in the process of developing the application that will detail the instructions 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 hundreds to thousands of pages. 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 in the most competitive market (here is a video highlighting some of our highest-scoring application wins in the past decade).
Conclusions from our Cannabis Consulting Firm in New York
If you want to start a marijuana business in New York, you can 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 and 6 countries, 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!
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 retail dispensary licenses
- 1 cultivator license
- 1 processor license
- 1 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 Limits for Cooperative Licenses in New York
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 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 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:
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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)
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.
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.
A Service-disabled veteran means persons qualified under article seventeen-B of the executive law.
Useful resources related to New York Cannabis License Consulting:
Here are some additional resources that our New York Cannabis Consulting firm recommend reviewing:
- Summary of New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act
- Link to the full text of New Yorks Adult-Use Cannabis Bill (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act)
- Link to New York’s Office of Cannabis Management website
- A Factsheet outlining each adult-use cannabis license in New York.
- A Factsheet regarding local governments control on cannabis in New York
- A Fact Sheet outlining the Social and Economic Equity program for New York Adult-Use Cannabis.