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Cannabis Control Board Okays 100 New Licenses


The New York State Cannabis Control Board voted on Friday to approve the first non-conditional adult-use cannabis licenses for entrepreneurs who applied during the 2023 application window which opened on October 4. In total, the Board issued 109 licenses, with 38 going to applicants seeking to open a retail dispensary and another 26 going to applicants seeking to operate a microbusiness license which allows a licensee to grow, process, distribute, and sell all under one license.

“Adult-use cannabis is a growing industry in New York that will help local economies across the state,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “The approval of over 100 licenses is a good start and provides individuals with the opportunity to apply for licensing to help drive up local economies around them.”

New York is now home to 70 licensed adult-use cannabis retailers: a mix of CAURD licensees with storefronts, CAURD licensees providing delivery services, and adult-use dispensaries co-located with existing medical dispensaries. With the lifting of a recent injunction in December, New York State has nearly tripled the amount of operating cannabis retailers in the last two months.

OCM anticipates the opening of at least another 25 adult-use dispensaries in the coming weeks, once operators complete the final steps required to begin cannabis sales.

Applicants approved for the retail and microbusiness licenses today were those who submitted their applications before the November 17 deadline and have a specific location under their control. Additional licenses for applicants who applied by the November 17 deadline, and for applicants who applied by the December 18 deadline, will be issued on a rolling basis at CCB meetings over the next few months. The Office anticipates a significant number of applications will be ready for Board approval at the subsequent CCB meetings. Click here to learn more about the application window that opened on October 4.

Social and Economic Equity Adult-Use Licensing

After the Office recommended to the Board the 109 adult-use licenses to be awarded at today’s Board Meeting, it analyzed the composition of such licensees. The Office is pleased to report a significant milestone: two-thirds (66 percent) of all such licensees are social and economic equity (SEE) owned businesses. One-third (35 percent) are women-owned businesses and another third (32 percent) are minority-owned businesses. 10 percent are minority-women-owned businesses. The full breakdown is listed below.

New York just tripled the estimated national rate for minority and women-owned retail dispensary licensees in the state’s inaugural round of adult-use licensing. An analysis of the composition of today’s adult-use retail dispensary licensees indicates that a full 88 percent are SEE-owned businesses. 60 percent are minority-owned businesses, 50 percent are women-owned businesses, and 20 percent are minority-women-owned businesses. The early resulting level of diversity of ownership within New York’s retail industry will have positive ripple effects for years to come as diversely owned small cannabis brands seek out shelf space.

All SEE licenses issued today by the Board, except those that applied as Extra Priority or Cannabis Compliance Training & Mentorship graduates, underwent the same randomized queuing process as every other applicant and received no additional weight.

Moving forward, the Office anticipates seeing similar SEE proportions across all non-provisional licenses issued. The Office successfully met the Cannabis Law’s goal of 50 percent SEE licensure through a three-part strategy. First, the Office intentionally designed an application process that was accessible but simple, allowing many to complete it within a single afternoon. Second, we enlisted the support of over 60 community-based organizations, academic institutions, non-profits, and law firms, who assisted more than 800 prospective SEE applicants. Third, extensive outreach and educational efforts ensured that communities prioritized under the Cannabis Law were well informed and adequately prepared for this historic opportunity.

These efforts, coupled with an impartial lottery system, produced outcomes that closely match the present-day demographics of New York State. The vast majority of the state’s residents are women, minorities, or both, and a sizable proportion live in communities disproportionately impacted. The SEE Plan, released by the Office in May 2023, forecasted much of this work with a thorough examination of the barriers to entry and recommendations to avoid replicating the unforeseen consequences of legal markets that came before New York.

Cannabis Compliance Training & Mentorship Program  

Two years ago, Governor Hochul signed Senate Bill S8084A, granting conditional licenses to New York’s hemp farmers for the cultivation, processing, and distribution of adult-use cannabis products. Recognizing the need for broader benefits, the legislation also mandated the creation of a mentorship and training program to diversify the pipeline of farmers and processors preparing to participate in New York’s legal market. The Office designed and launched the Cannabis Compliance Training & Mentorship (CCTM) program, modeled after existing farmer apprenticeship programs.  

Today, 15 graduates received the first adult-use microbusiness licenses in New York State. 11 of them qualified for the program based off their experience with cannabis cultivation and processing. Six were awarded to women-owned farms and four went to service-disabled veterans. With their entrance into the market, New York achieves a historic milestone as the first state in the country to successfully implement a “legacy to legal” adult-use licensing initiative.  

With 40 adult-use dispensaries, New York has almost tripled the number of open dispensaries since December with another 25 CUARD who have received their final license and will be opening in the coming weeks.   

29 New York municipalities now have adult-use cannabis dispensaries. The full list of New York’s licensed operational adult-use cannabis retailers can be found here

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