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How To Open A Cannabis Dispensary In New York (2023)

How To Start A Cannabis Dispensary In New York (2023)

New York recently legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Introducing NY Senate Bill S854A will make cannabis more accessible for everybody. 


Cannabis has been legal in New York since July 2014, but the market has become less restrictive. 

It’s estimated that New York will be the biggest legal cannabis state in the U.S. According to some estimates, the regulated cannabis market in the Empire State is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2027.


The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) determines that the legalization of recreational cannabis has the potential to bring in $436 million in tax revenue, out of which New York City might be able to receive an additional $336 million in tax revenue


This article explores the opportunities for individuals interested in entering the cannabis retail business in New York. But before we go further, if you are already a medical marijuana patient and obtaining a medical card then it’s recommended to renew your medical license NY before it expires to avoid confusion.


Following are some questions that always come to mind before opening a dispensary in New York.


Can I open a dispensary in New York right now?


To obtain a medical cannabis business license in New York, cannabis businesses must undergo an extensive application process. As soon as you obtain a marijuana business license, you may open a maximum of four dispensaries.


Despite several proprietors opening adult-use dispensaries across the state, the state has not awarded any licenses to dispensaries for adult use. This is due to the removal of the prohibition on cannabis, which has created a legal loophole to exploit such a market.


How do I open a cannabis dispensary in New York?


The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) oversees the licensing process for businesses seeking to operate dispensaries for medical or adult use. Before you go through the process for licensing, you need to follow the below procedure. 


Plan your business.


Creating a business plan is unnecessary when opening a dispensary in New York, but it can significantly ease the process and help investor funding. 


Check local zoning laws and regulations.


Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) passed a few years back, allowing the authorization of marijuana dispensaries in certain cities and towns. Hence, your dispensary must comply with the local regulations wherever possible.

Cannabis consumption at brick-and-mortar dispensaries is restricted to businesses with an on-site consumption license governed by local zoning laws.


Get a cannabis business license.


Currently, the Office of Cannabis Management has not released details regarding the regulations and requirements for obtaining a license to operate a cannabis dispensary for adult use. However, businesses can apply to be part of the state’s program dealing with medical marijuana. They can cultivate and dispense medical marijuana to patients as long as they are accepted.


What licenses will be available in New York to operate a marijuana dispensary?


To open a cannabis business in your city or town, you must check first to see if your city or town will allow the business to operate. Following that, you can register for a cannabis microbusiness license. Before pursuing licensing, developing a complete business plan that includes extensive market research is a good idea. The following licenses are available: 


Cultivator License


With this cannabis license, you can cultivate and sell cannabis to holders of processor licenses. Licensing covers everything from growing cannabis to harvesting, drying, grading, and trimming it. 


Registered Organization Adult-use Cultivator, Processor, and Distributor License


A single organization can cultivate, process, and distribute adult-use cannabis with this license, and it is only allowed to distribute your product in specific locations. 


Adult-use Processor License


Cannabis products can be purchased from cultivators and blended, extracted, infused, packaged, branded, labeled, and otherwise prepared with this license. 


Cannabis products that have been processed can also be sold to distributors with licenses.


You can’t sell any product other than your own to distribution partners.


Adult-use On-site Consumption License


Within the limits of your premises, you, your shop’s patrons, and other guests may smoke and vape cannabis products. MRTA authorizes cannabis licenses only for people who do not own any other cannabis licenses. 


Three people can only use the on-site consumption license at the same time. 


Adult-use Cooperative License


The license is intended for vertically integrated cooperatives that handle everything from manufacturing to selling cannabis products from one location. This will include acquiring, possessing, cultivating, processing, distributing, and selling.


For this license to be granted, all cooperative members must be New York residents, and all must be registered with the state as LLCs, LLPs, or other business entities.


Adult-use Retail Dispensary License


A licensed dispensary may sell cannabis products under this type of license. To hold this license, you are not allowed to have interests in more than three dispensaries.


Furthermore, a retail license cannot be shared with another license. 


Distributor License


With this license type, the holder is authorized to purchase products from processors and distribute those products to dispensaries and establishments for on-site consumption.


Microbusiness License


With this license type, the holder has limited rights to cultivate, process, distribute, deliver, and sell. All of the above can be done for their cannabis and cannabis-derived products. There is only one condition, though, that they cannot hold a stake in any other license or business relating to marijuana. 


Furthermore, they are only allowed to stock their product brands in their sales outlets and cannot carry any other brands. Each license holder and their business must follow the criteria set forth by the CCB to qualify as a micro business. To obtain these licenses, economic and social equity will be considered.


Delivery License

Cannabis retail delivery service licenses are available to companies or owners who want to serve end-users with cannabis products. Adult-use cannabis licenses can be held separately from other types of licenses. There is a limit of 25 full-time paid delivery workers per week. 


It is illegal for a license holder to hold more than one license at a time. 


Nursery License


Cannabis clones, young plants, seeds, and associated agricultural products may be produced, distributed, and sold under this license. 


In addition to the nursery license, cultivators may also get a license that allows them to sell to other licensees such as micro-businesses, growers, registered organizations, and cooperatives. 


Before applying for a license, make sure you check the local laws.

Also Read Are edibles legal in New York State



According to state law, local governments can protest license applications. The dispensary’s local government must approve the type of license you are applying for before the board will issue a permit to you.


The NY Marijuana Card can assist you with any further assistance you might need regarding renewing your medical marijuana card in NY.