New York Regulators to Issue 1,500 Cannabis Licenses in Upcoming Round

New York Regulators to Issue 1,500 Cannabis Licenses in Upcoming Round

New York regulators are planning to issue roughly 1,500 marijuana business licenses when the upcoming permit application window opens next Wednesday, one of the state’s top cannabis overseers disclosed.

“We’re going to be issuing well over a thousand, closer to 1,500 licenses, across the supply chain,” said Chris Alexander, executive director of the New York Office of Cannabis Management.

That would vastly expand the current licensed New York market, which consists of 23 recreational shops, 279 farmers, 40 processors, and 11 registered organizations that serve the medical cannabis market. Another 440 conditional adult use retail dispensary (CAURD) licensees have been prevented from opening due to ongoing litigation.

The agency disclosed last month in a court filing that it envisions ultimately having a minimum of 2,000 retailers and 800 growers statewide “to meet market demand.” There is no state-mandated cap on the number of recreational cannabis business licenses.

The next licensing window will launch Oct. 4 and remain open for 60 days. It’s not clear yet when the next opportunity will be for entrepreneurs to apply for permits after that.

Alexander’s remarks came during a subcommittee meeting of the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board on Tuesday morning, at which he and OCM Policy Director John Kagia delivered an update to board members on where OCM stands with regard to the much-anticipated application window.

“Oct. 4 will be a firing gun for us to be able to get this market really going,” Kagia said. “We’re fully expecting that the … license application window that will open on Oct. 4 will be the single largest deployment of cannabis operational licenses that’s ever been done anywhere in the country.”

Kagia added that adding more retailers to the existing New York market is the OCM’s “most urgent priority here,” but he noted that the agency will be also expanding the number of legal cultivators, processors, distributors, and microbusinesses, as well as medical marijuana-only registered organizations and social equity-specific licenses.

“There will be a lot more detail being issued over the coming days around the license rollout: how many licenses, the application process, the issuance of licensing to our social and economic equity applicants versus to the general public,” Kagia said. He urged stakeholders to check the OCM website frequently in coming days.

Alexander said there will be a “guidance document” published in coming days for all license applicants, which should provide more details, including a definition of “good standing” relevant for conditionally licensed businesses like the 279 farmers who need to transition to permanent licenses.

Kagia and Alexander advised that future application windows will eventually include more permit types,  such as on-site consumption, events, and delivery operations.

In addition, Alexander recommended that any of the 400-some CAURD licensees that have not yet been able to open due to a court order should prepare to apply during the Oct. 4 window as well.

“The question really is, what’s the pathway forward for CAURD?” Alexander said, referring to how those licenses could be tossed as unconstitutional due to the ongoing litigation. “We have continued to push forward in the court process… to make sure our licensees can get open. We’re still pursuing that.”

“What we will be directing folks to do, though, is still to apply” for retail permits after Oct. 4, Alexander said, noting that legally, CAURD licensees can have ownership stakes in up to three marijuana shops.

“We’re not giving folks three licenses at this time, but we are urging our CAURD folks to apply to leave all of our options open, as we work to make sure they’re able to fully participate in the market,” Alexander said.

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