New York State Cannabis Control Board Announces Change In Licensing Evaluation

May 10, 2024

The New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) took significant steps in enhancing our state’s cannabis regulatory framework.

They have enhanced the state’s cannabis regulatory framework by approving several resolutions designed to issue new licenses, simplify the adult-use cannabis licensing process, and enhance crucial enforcement measures.   

The CCB voted to approve a resolution authorizing the issuance of a diverse range of 104 adult-use cannabis licenses across the supply chain, including microbusinesses, cultivators, processors, distributors, and retail dispensary locations. This resolution opens pathways for entrepreneurs and businesses to participate in the budding adult-use cannabis market, fostering economic growth and innovation. 

Additionally, the Office with its new authority to issue provisional licenses, has issued or is in the process of issuing an additional 17 retail dispensary provisional licenses. 

The Board also passed a resolution to provide more clarity to the applicants from the November 2023 queue. The resolution directs the Office to review all applications in the November queue (in the order of the queue), and to prioritize this review before reviewing and issuing licenses to retail and microbusinesses in the December queue. Applicants who applied in the November queue had to apply with proof of control over the proposed retail dispensary or microbusiness location, where applicants in the December queue did not. 

Applications that meet all necessary requirements for full operational licensure will be recommended to the CCB to be approved for a license at future Board meetings. Applications that meet certain requirements will be eligible for a provisional license.  Applications that do not meet the necessary requirements for licensure will be recommended to the Board for denial.   

Eligibility criteria for receiving a provisional license includes: if an applicant’s location conflicts with a location that is receiving proximity protection, proximity to schools or places of worship, or if the applicant loses control of the location. The Board will provide an update for applications in the December queue at a later date based on updated information from supply and demand analysis in the cannabis supply chain. 

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The breakdown of the 121 license types approved today includes

Adult-Use Cultivator License: 27  

Adult-Use Distributor License: 23 

Adult-Use Microbusiness License: 14 

Adult-Use Processor License: 17 

Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License: 23  

Provisional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License: 17 

In addition to issuing licenses, the Control Board approved a resolution empowering the Office of Cannabis Management to issue and extension of the provisional license period in response to regulations governing the CAURD program, which stipulate that licensees must commence operations within 12 months of provisional license issuance, as detailed in section 116.7(c)(8). Due to litigation, the Board was prevented from issuing or processing CAURD licenses during a 5-month injunction period. To address this, a resolution has been proposed to extend the provisional license period by an additional 12 months from the date of provisional license receipt. Furthermore, the resolution aims to offer greater flexibility by permitting CAURDs to establish their retail dispensaries in any region across NYS, eliminating the previous requirement to locate within the region of provisional license receipt. 

Additionally, the CCB passed a resolution directing the Office of Cannabis Management to amend part of the emergency adoption and revised proposed rulemaking regarding enforcement violations, hearings, and regulations. This resolution, titled “Part 133 – Violations, Hearings, and Enforcement Emergency Regulations,” implements the Office’s expanded enforcement authority under the new law. The Office now may issue orders to seal and padlock illicit shops for unlicensed activity where the conduct poses an imminent threat to public health, safety and welfare. The enhancement to enforcement powers underscores the State’s continued commitment to safeguarding New York communities and consumers across the State. 

“We’ve already accomplished a great deal in building New York’s cannabis market. And we’ve done it while centering equity,” said Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the New York State Office of Cannabis Management. “We have plenty of work to do, and an opportunity to deliver on. We will continue to work hard to protect and further those advancements so that everyone has a chance to compete.”

“The resolutions passed today exemplify our proactive approach to shaping a robust regulatory framework for New York’s cannabis market while remaining committed to clarity and adaptability,” said Tremaine Wright, Chair of the Cannabis Control Board. “Through measures like extending provisional license periods and enhancing enforcement powers, we’re ensuring an accessible marketplace that prioritizes public health and safety as well as innovation and growth.  Together these actions will bolster the success of the entrepreneurs within the market.”

New York State continues its commitment to nurturing a robust cannabis landscape that champions small enterprises, drives economic growth, and ensures responsible consumption among adults aged 21 and above. Demonstrating significant progress towards equity goals outlined in the MRTA, over 60% of licenses issued in 2024 have been allocated to Social and Economic Equity (SEE) applicants. Among today’s license breakdown, 53 out of 104 licenses fall under the SEE category, marking this cohort of licensees at 51% SEE representation. In today’s cohort of licenses approved, 40% are Minority-Owned Businesses, 38% Women-Owned Businesses, 11% Veteran-Owned Businesses, 6% Distressed Farmers, and 6% represent individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition. 

There are over 120 dispensaries open for business across the Empire State providing a diverse range of quality, safer, tested cannabis products for adults over 21+. A full list of New York’s licensed, operational adult-use cannabis retailers is available here. 

Photo credit: Wiki.

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