Here’s how to apply for a New York dispensary license

Published on August 10, 2022 · Last updated August 25, 2022

Residents and nonprofits impacted by the Drug War can now apply for retail cannabis licenses. They will get priority access and support, according to the state cannabis board.

On August 25, New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) started accepting application forms for the state’s first retail cannabis licenses. The OCM tweeted the big news two weeks ago (August 11).

The official Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURD) application can be found here.

The cannabis board said via Twitter that New York will be home to “the nation’s most equitable, diverse, and accessible cannabis industry.”

“How do we plan to do it?” the OCM account continued. ”Join us live at 2pm EST to learn about our higher equity standards and how you can apply for our first conditional dispensary licenses.”

The OCM’s virtual toolkit is a study guide for New Yorkers who want to become dispensary owners through the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries program.

The OCM plans to award up to 150 licenses within 14 regions of The Empire State. A higher concentration of licenses will go to New York City applicants, based on 2020 commuter- adjusted population data. Manhattan has the highest license max with 22, while Long Island (20) and Brooklyn (19) are not far behind.

(New York Office of Cannabis Management)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams proposed a short-term $4.8 million social equity investment fund for outreach efforts and license application assistance.

The outreach would target communities most affected by the War on Drugs, aiming to give them a leg up in the legal cannabis industry. But his 420-friendly messages have been somewhat overshadowed by the state’s harsher stance on the plant.

Some are projecting that New York will start adult-use weed sales in late 2022 or early 2023. So now is the time for New Yorkers to stake their claim in the new green rush.

New York Mayor Comes Out Strong for Legalization With Equity

With state officials projecting $1.25 billion in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs created over the industry’s next six years, fair access to licenses has been a hot topic ever since former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature legalized weed for all adults in March 2021. The OCM tweeted, “New York’s first dispensaries will be owned by those harmed by the over criminalization of cannabis.”

Truck selling marijuana products operates in Manhattan.
New York’s first round of adult use cannabis licenses are here. (Roman-Tiraspolsky/Adobe Stock)

The cannabis board’s website also has a detailed guide for applying for retail, cultivation, and manufacturing licenses here.

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More application resources are available on the OCM’s Licensing page and below.

Deadlines for applying for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License

Applicants will have at least 30 days to submit applications before a closing date is announced. The OCM will grant conditional licenses to select applicants who will have to renew their license within four years of receiving it.

Who is eligible?

New York state will prioritize this first round of licenses for justice-involved individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis charges.

Eligibility requirements for applicants include:

  • A “significant presence in New York State,” either by individual residency, a corporate location “organized under the laws of New York State.”
  • The individual applicant (or at least one individual of an entity, must either be justice-involved and convicted of a marijuana-related offense prior to March 31, 2021, have “a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, or dependent,” who was convicted, or be a dependent of a convicted individual.
  • If the applicant is not justice -involved, they may be eligible “if they hold or have held, for a minimum of two years, at least ten percent ownership interest in, and control of, a qualifying business.”
  • Nonprofit organizations that directly serve and employ justice-involved individuals, and can prove positive net assets.
  • Individuals who meet this criteria of justice involvement must be given a majority stake in the business, should it be given a license.
  • Applicants must be at least 21 years of age
New ‘Seeds of Change’ report rates states on cannabis equity, finds most lacking

The OCM also states that they will evaluate eligible applications on a myriad of factors. Factors include: If the justice-involved applicant was themself convicted, if they were a resident at the time of conviction, and the socioeconomic factors of that residential area.

Other factors include the size of the business, physical location, and any fees, fines, or violations brought by authorities.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the OCM with questions and concerns.

The state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) will hold its next public board meeting at noon on Monday, August 15, 2022 via real-time live streaming. The public can view the meeting from a mobile device or computer on the live webcast link.

This story will be updated as application details and deadlines are released by the state.

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Amelia Williams
Amelia Williams
New York-based freelance cannabis journalist Amelia Williams is a graduate of San Francisco State University's journalism program, and a former budtender. Williams has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle's GreenState, MG Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Cannabis Now, Kirkus Reviews, and The Bold Italic.
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