Cannabis Cultivator Fees Waived in New York Until 2026

Cannabis Cultivator Fees Waived in New York Until 2026

The New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) recently voted to waive cannabis cultivator licensing fees for the next two years. Gov. Kathy Hochul celebrated this recent progress to help struggling cultivators. “Farmers are the backbone of our State, and we’re making sure the family farms across New York that are building our cannabis industry have a real chance to succeed,” Hochul said. “I have made it clear that New York State needs to issue more dispensary licenses and kickstart cannabis sales in New York, and this two-year promise to Adult-Use Conditional Cultivators will make sure these farmers can reap the benefits of this growing industry.”

On the same day, the CCB also approved 114 new cannabis business licenses (45 for retail dispensaries and 31 microbusinesses) which allows the grantees to grow, process, and sell cannabis. The state currently has 89 licensed dispensaries currently operating, and hundreds more licenses that have been granted, with 223 approved in 2024. Additionally, the CCB approved 38 non-conditional adult-use licenses as well. 

Until 2026, cultivators will no longer have to pay for the fee that is applied when they transition to a non-conditional license, such as cultivation or microbusiness licenses. Conditional license fees range anywhere between $4,500 to $40,000, and the price is based on their license tier size and canopy size, according to a press release published by Hochul’s office.

Chris Alexander, executive director of the New York Office of Cannabis Managementalso provided a statement regarding the new licenses. “New York State’s cannabis market is moving in the right direction, and by waiving licensing fees for two years, we’re making sure conditional cultivators have a chance to reap the rewards of this growing industry,” Alexander said. “As we mark three years of legalized adult-use cannabis in New York state, we look forward to this next chapter of our cannabis story.”

The 114 applicants who were granted licenses on March 22 submitted their applications prior to Nov. 17, 2023, and also already own a physical location for their business. Those who applied after Nov. 17 but before Dec. 18 will likely be approved within the next few months “on a rolling basis.” At the March meeting, the CCB also renewed permits for 17 testing labs. “Since the last Cannabis Control Board meeting in February, 16 new adult-use cannabis dispensaries have opened their doors across New York State,” the CCB wrote in a press release. “This is a continuation of the swift rate of store openings since the December lifting of an injunction preventing New York’s retail cannabis licensees from opening their doors.”

There are an estimated 2,000 illegal cannabis business operators in New York, according to The New York Times. In comparison to the 89 legal businesses (10 which are delivery-only), that is approximately 24 illegal businesses for every one legal business.

The original legal framework for New York’s adult-use cannabis program was signed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March 2021, and Hochul replaced him and took office later that year in August. Last month Hochul spoke about the initial framework. “You have to go back to the very beginning,” Hochul said. “Prior to my time [as governor], the legislation was crafted in a way that was not poised for success.”

As a result though, legal cannabis businesses have been struggling. “We’ve got farmers who are just losing money. We’ve got these people who took out loans and are excited about their opportunities, ready to start,” Hochul said. “And meanwhile, no money is flowing back to the state. We have all this, and the illicit market is flourishing.”

Earlier this month, the New York Senate discussed a budget proposal that would earmark $128 million to support cannabis businesses. This includes $60 million to go toward farmers’ loans, $40 million for Cannabis Farmer Relief Fund grants, and $28 million for cannabis farmers who lost money due to the state’s slow ramp-up for its legal industry.

A few weeks ago on the Senate floor, Sen. George Borrello spoke about the importance of the bill. “We are now three years into where we have passed the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York state—three years now this month,” said Borrello, according to The Post-Journal. “We are now proposing a bailout for pot farmers of $128 million. We all, I think, would agree this has been an abject failure. It’s been said on both sides of the aisle. Somehow New York state has managed to screw up pot. I don’t know how that happens, but we did.”

Sen. Michelle Hinchey proposed a bill last year that was ultimately vetoed by Hochul but would have opened up opportunities for cannabis farmers earlier. “I don’t right now have any numbers on the broader spectrum of cannabis across the state, but I think it’s incredibly important to recognize and acknowledge that these are growers who we asked to grow the product for the market and so the $128 million here is to cover the losses they would have seen since the rollout was delayed and making sure they have the funds to be able to stay in business until the next growing cycle,” Hinchey explained.

  Read More The Latest Marijuana News Today | HighTimes Magazine 

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