SBS Unveils NYC’s First-Ever Cannabis Entrepreneurship Program: The Next Stage Of ‘Lift Off’

October 4, 2023

The NYC Department of Small Business Services’ (SBS) Cannabis NYC initiative today announced the launch of its first-ever FastTrac® for Cannabis Entrepreneurs.

A 10-session educational program that connects cannabis business owners with free, high-quality training and advice proctored by leading players in the legal cannabis industry. The inaugural series comes as the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) opens applications for cultivator, processor, distributor, microbusiness, and retail dispensary licenses today. SBS is offering individual entrepreneurs and businesses free counseling and assistance with the New York State OCM licensing and application process. Those interested are encouraged to make an appointment with one of SBS’s 7 Business Solutions Centers or call its hotline at (888) SBS-4NYC.

The launch of the FastTrac® program caps a milestone year for Cannabis NYC, which included more than 1,000 touchpoints to support the Conditional Adult-use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license application cycle, hosting a national members symposium for the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition during NYC Cannabis Empowerment Week, launch of the “Lift Off! Cannabis NYC” 5-borough public education tour, and development of the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund for social and economic equity licensees. Additionally, Cannabis NYC’s team is expanding to support the ongoing growth of the legal industry across science, business, and public policy.

“This administration is steadfast in its mission to build the country’s most equitable legal cannabis industry, and the new FastTrac® for Cannabis Entrepreneurs program is another demonstration of that focus,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “By layering highly relevant industry-specific content onto a proven business education curriculum, we are making it easier than ever for entrepreneurs – particularly those who were impacted the most by past prohibition – to start up their businesses and reap the benefits of the legal cannabis industry in NYC.”


“The FastTrac® for Cannabis Entrepreneurs program is a game-changer as we support the development of the city’s legal cannabis industry,” said SBS Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “This course will help dozens of small growers, dispensers, and entrepreneurs launch their businesses as the State opens its application process. FastTrac® will set New York City’s legal cannabis industry on the course to be the most successful.”

“Cannabis NYC’s mission is grounded in equity and education,” said Cannabis NYC Founding Director Dasheeda Dawson. “We will continue the Lift Off! Tour until 2025 to ensure that every community is being educated on the myriad of policies and opportunities available in the legal cannabis industry as an entrepreneur, employee, investor, or consumer.”

FastTrac® for Cannabis Entrepreneurs


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FastTrac® for Cannabis Entrepreneurs is a free, groundbreaking program for new and prospective cannabis entrepreneurs that provides the fundamentals of starting, operating, and scaling a cannabis-focused business in New York City. Access to the program is available to cannabis entrepreneurs at all stages of the startup and licensing process and will be presented virtually as a 10-session, 30-hour series of online courses.

Each module of FastTrac® for Cannabis Entrepreneurs is designed and taught by leading voices in the legal cannabis industry. Participants will learn how to navigate New York State’s cannabis regulatory framework and explore different strategies to enter the market with one of the five available operating licenses. Participants will take away knowledge about cannabis regulations, operating and licensing requirements, as well as commercial space, staffing, and business financing.

Applicants must have an idea for a new cannabis-focused business or have recently launched one and must be willing to commit to all 10 sessions. 

Interested business owners and entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply online by October 18, 2023.

New ‘Lift Off! Cannabis NYC’ Tour Dates

The launch of FastTrac® for Cannabis Entrepreneurs comes as Cannabis NYC announces its next series of ‘Lift Off!’ listening tour locations.

Launched in February 2023, the ‘Lift Off! Cannabis NYC’ Listening and Learning Tour will continue in the Bronx on October 12 for Spanish-speaking communities. In partnership with New York City Housing Authority, Mayor’s Office of Equity, and NYC Sheriff’s Office, the tour is the first and largest cannabis public education and outreach effort for the City, aiming to close the industry education gap particularly for communities disproportionately impacted by previous policies, and to listen and learn from community stakeholders about their needs and concerns related to the developing legal industry.

Previous events in the tour have introduced Cannabis NYC’s overall mission, provided access to currently available community resources and services, and addressed the City’s enforcement strategy for unlicensed smoke shops. As of October 2023, ‘Lift Off! Cannabis NYC’ has made more than 15 stops across the city providing public education to thousands of New Yorkers, including the 50th Annual NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally in Union Square. Most recently, the ‘Lift Off!’ tour visited the Staten Island FerryHawks’ stadium and featured a cannabis growers showcase which culminated in the first-ever legal cannabis sales on Staten Island.

Cannabis NYC (CNYC)

The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) launched Cannabis NYC to make our city the global leader for cannabis industry excellence in education and equity across business, science, and culture, and is reaching this goal by actively creating an interagency hub of free resources and services for all New Yorkers interested in the cannabis industry.

Through strategic outreach, public engagement, business services, and advocacy efforts, Cannabis NYC will support the creation of good jobs, successful small businesses, and sustainable economic opportunity to address historic harms of past cannabis prohibition.

To stay connected, visit nyc.gov/cannabis and sign up for updates here.

The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS)

SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information on all SBS services, go to nyc.gov/sbs, call 311.

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