Guide to New York Cannabis License Application: Process, Documents & Regulations

New York Cannabis License Application

New York Cannabis License Application

This article will provide an update on how to apply for a New York cannabis license, eligibility requirements, social equity applicants, location requirements, and more.

Summary of Key Points for Cannabis Entrepreneurs in New York:

  1. License Applications: Adult-use cannabis license applications for cultivator, processor, distributor, microbusiness, and retail dispensary types will open on October 4, 2023, on the New York Business Express (NYBE). Conditional cultivator and processor license holders can apply to transition to non-conditional licenses.
  2. Number of Licenses: Approximately 1,000 licenses may be issued, including 500-1000 retail dispensary licenses, 220 microbusiness licenses, and limited numbers for other types. Final numbers are subject to determination by the Cannabis Control Board.
  3. License Allocation: The Board can limit licenses to facilitate a controlled market rollout, especially prioritizing retail dispensaries. Future windows will adjust based on market needs and Board findings.
  4. Application Components: Applications include business, ownership, workforce participation details, and premises information. Social and Economic Equity (SEE) applicants have additional requirements. Proof of belief control is essential, except for retail dispensary and microbusiness applicants.
  5. Premises Control: All applicants need proof of premises control. Retail dispensary and microbusiness applicants can apply provisionally without premises details but must secure a location within 12 months.
  6. Provisional License: Retail dispensary and microbusiness applicants without premises control can obtain a temporary license. It does not authorize operations but helps secure funding and premises. Provisional licensees have 12 months to complete their application.
  7. Application Windows: Open from October 4, 2023, to December 4, 2023, with an expedited window for retail dispensary and microbusiness applicants until November 3, 2023.
  8. Licensing Fee: Non-refundable $1,000 application fee. SEE applicants receive a 50% reduction. Licensing fees vary based on the license type.
  9. License Validity: Adult-use cannabis licenses are valid for two years and can be renewed.
  10. Readiness to Operate: A license can be done without immediate operations. Retail dispensary and microbusiness provisional license holders have 12 months to provide the necessary information for final licensure.
  11. Provisional License Availability: Currently available for retail dispensary and microbusiness applicants only.
  12. Cultivation Types: Four types include indoor, outdoor, mixed light, and combination. Only indoor Tier 1 and Tier 2 cultivators will be licensed initially.
  13. Processor License: Allows extraction, infusing, blending, packaging, labeling, and branding. SEE-certified applicants receive prioritization.
  14. Workforce/Training Programs: Completion of Office-offered programs prioritizes applicants for specific licenses and provides fee reductions. SEE-certified applicants receive additional benefits.

Essential Adult-Use Cannabis Eligibility Information for Entrepreneurs:

  • License Applications: Applications for adult-use cannabis licenses (cultivator, processor, distributor, micro business, and retail dispensary) open on October 4, 2023, on New York Business Express (NYBE). Conditional license holders can transition to non-conditional licenses.
  • Number of Licenses: Over 1,000 licenses estimated, including 500-1000 retail dispensary licenses, 220 microbusiness licenses, and limited numbers for other types. Final numbers are subject to the Cannabis Control Board’s determination.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be over 21. Certain felony convictions within the past five years may render individuals ineligible. Chief of police, police officers, or subordinates in any New York State police department are ineligible. Eligibility varies for AUCC, AUCP, ROD, and ROND licenses.
  • Ownership and Control: Licenses are tied to the entity issued; they are not transferrable except under limited circumstances. Confident ownership and control restrictions apply.
  • Premises Control: Proof of control over proposed premises is mandatory for most license types. Provisional licenses were initially available for retail dispensary and microbusiness applicants without premises control.
  • Cultivation Types: Only indoor Tier 1 and 2 cultivators were initially licensed. Future applications may include a wider variety of cultivation licenses.
  • SEE Applicants: Completion of SEE programs prioritizes applicants for specific licenses and provides fee reductions. SEE-certified applicants receive additional benefits.
  • Labor Peace Agreement: Licensees must enter a Labor Peace Agreement with a labor organization before final license issuance. It’s not a collective bargaining agreement but an agreement not to oppose unionization.
  • Communication: Official communications from the Office or Board will never ask for sensitive personal information over email. Valid communications will be sent through the NYBE platform and end in “”
  • Tax Delinquency: Tax payment fraud won’t automatically deny an application if the individual repays the debt through a payment plan.

Key Points on Completing the New York Cannabis Application:

  • Application Submission: Apply for a license through New York Business Express (NYBE). Ensure your NYBE Business Profile is linked, or create a new one with a NY.Gov login.
  • Preparation Before Applying:
    • Form your business officially, register with NY State and IRS, and obtain your formation documents and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN/EIN).
    • Review New York State’s official guide on starting a business.
  • Who Can Submit: Application must be submitted by the applicant (individual sole proprietorship), managing member (LLC), officer (corporation, including non-profit), or partner (partnership). Consultants or lawyers’ assistance requires additional reporting.
  • Address Requirement: Use the owner/partner’s home address if there is no business address. Official communications are generally emailed to the primary contact listed in the application, not the address provided.
  • FEIN Changes: FEIN cannot be changed after submission. Please apply with the intended business entity as it’s linked with other NY State agencies.
  • Professional Assistance: Not mandatory, but external assistance is allowed. Additional reporting is required if external help is taken.
  • Saving Progress: The application can be saved and continued later. Pay attention to submission deadlines.
  • Application Fee: Non-refundable fee paid online via credit card or ACH. Confirmation page and email received upon successful submission.
  • Community Impact Plan: Not required during application but needed upon renewal to demonstrate benefits to disproportionately impacted communities.
  • True Parties of Interest (TPI) Disclosures:
    • Applicants must disclose certain TPI.
    • TPIs submit personal or entity history disclosures. Required documents include valid ID, convictions, cannabis licenses in other states, agreements, and financial disclosures.
    • Ownership percentage is calculated based on voting shares, equity shares, and proportional ownership interest.
    • TPI changes are allowed before final license issuance.
  • Communication: Questions can be emailed to Allow time for responses before follow-ups. SEE applicants have additional technical support and assistance available.

Ensure adherence to specific document requirements and guidelines outlined in the application instructions for a successful submission process.

Summary of Key Points for Social and Economic Equity (SEE) Applicants:

Definition of SEE Applicant:

SEE applicants include individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, as defined under Cannabis Law.

Prioritization in License Review:

SEE applicants qualifying for Extra Priority will receive prioritization in access to adult-use cannabis business licenses. Applications are pooled based on SEE certification, license type, and provisional status. Randomized ordering determines the queuing order, and applications are reviewed until allocated licenses are issued.

License Availability and Resubmission:

Certain license types have limited availability. Not all applications may be reviewed before all licenses are issued. Unsuccessful applicants can resubmit in future application windows.

Fee Reduction and Application Support:

SEE applicants receive a 50% reduction in application and licensing fees. Application support is provided. Qualified SEE licensees receive a 50% reduction in annual licensing fees and technical training.

Multiple SEE Categories:

SEE applicants can apply for multiple SEE categories to increase their chances in the application process.

Ownership and Control Requirements:

Sole control must be held by individuals from the specified SEE categories. Conditions include substantial ownership, decision-making authority, and the ability to influence business operations.

Proof of SEE Eligibility:

SEE status certification occurs after the application window closes. Applicants failing to prove SEE status can submit additional documentation during a 30-day cure period—failure to provide necessary documentation results in application rejection.

Small Business Qualification:

Minor business status is necessary for specific SEE categories. Small businesses must employ at most 300 individuals. Proof includes payroll reports, tax returns, or other relevant documents.

Community Disproportionately Impacted (CDI) Requirement:

SEE applicants from CDIs must provide proof of residency and ownership/control documentation. CDI status is determined based on specific criteria outlined by the Office.

Extra Priority Criteria:

Extra priority is given to applicants from CDIs with lower incomes and previous marijuana-related convictions. Proof of eligible marijuana-related offenses is required.

Documentation for SEE Eligibility:

SEE applicants must provide various documents, including certificates of disposition, background checks, court records, tax returns, and other relevant paperwork, to prove SEE eligibility and relationship to convicted family members. Name changes may require additional documentation.

Alternative Proof of Residency:

The Board may accept alternative forms of evidence if applicants cannot provide documentation for proof of residency.

Note: For detailed information and specific documentation requirements, applicants should refer to the official guidance provided by the Office of Cannabis Management.

Key points regarding location requirements for cannabis businesses in New York are as follows:

  1. Proof of Premises Control: All applicants, except retail dispensary and microbusiness license seekers, must provide proof of control over their proposed licensed location to complete an application.
  2. Application Submission: Applications without premises information may be submitted, but only those with proof of premises will be considered eligible for a license. The application fee is non-refundable.
  3. Provisional Approval: Retail dispensary and microbusiness applicants without control over retail premises can gain provisional approval. They have 12 months to complete their licensing application and obtain a final license by providing updated information on their premises.
  4. Location Restrictions: Retail dispensaries cannot be located within 200 feet of a house of worship, 500 feet of a school building or school grounds, or within 1,000 or 2,000 feet of another licensed retail premises, depending on the municipality’s population.
  5. Proximity Protection: Applicants with approved premises gain proximity protection within a 1,000- or 2,000-foot radius based on the municipality’s population. Progress towards beginning operations must be demonstrated; otherwise, proximity protection will be voided.
  6. Queuing Order: If two applicants propose the same retail premises or locations within the proximity protection area, the application’s queueing order determines priority.
  7. Zoning Requirements: Applicants must self-assess their proposed retail premises’ viability, but this assessment is not binding. The Office must verify compliance with distance requirements before final licensure.
  8. Municipal Notification: Applicants for adult-use retail dispensary, microbusiness, ROD, or on-site consumption licenses must notify the municipality or appropriate community board 30 to 270 days before applying.
  9. Local Government Authority: Local governments could opt out of allowing cannabis businesses within their jurisdictions before December 31, 2021. They also have authority over the time, place, and manner of retail dispensaries and on-site consumption businesses, as specified in local law or ordinance.

Please note that the specifics of the regulations and laws can change, and it’s essential to refer to the latest guidelines or legal counsel for the most current information.

Essential information after submitting a cannabis license application in New York includes:
  1. Queuing Process: Applications are queued based on social equity status, provisional status, and license type. The Board decides the number of licenses to grant from each pool. Still, the queuing order has yet to have a licensing guarantee due to the time taken to fix applicant deficiencies.
  2. Waiting Time: The queuing process starts 2-4 weeks after the application window closes. Results are shared with applicants, and top-queued applicants are contacted for review.
  3. Application Status: Application status can be checked on the New York Business Express dashboard. The primary contact receives email notifications about required actions, approval, or denial.
  4. Deficiency Notices: Applicants must correct deficiencies within 30 days after notification; otherwise, the application becomes void. Timely correction is encouraged to avoid voiding the application.
  5. Ownership Changes: Changes in ownership structure can only be made on a limited basis after the application is processed. Ownership corrections must be made before final license approval.
  6. FEIN Changes: Federal Employment Identification Number (FEIN) cannot be changed on a submitted application. A new application must be submitted for changes.
  7. Provisional Approval: Provisional licensees cannot conduct licensed cannabis activities. Entire operations are allowed only after obtaining a final license.
  8. Final Licensure: A final license is issued after all required materials are submitted and the Board approves the application. A separate fee is required for the final permit.
  9. Required Documents for Final Licensure: Documents include updated application materials, signed labor peace agreement, vendor contract, insurance proof, deed/lease agreements, Certificate of Occupancy, other related licenses, and tax certificates.
  10. Insurance Requirements: Licensees must obtain unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, disability insurance, paid family leave, and any other insurance required under applicable state or local law. The Office of Cannabis Management, Cannabis Control Board, the State of New York, and related parties must be indemnified.
  11. Sales Tax Certificate: Retailers of non-cannabis items must obtain a Sales Tax Certificate of Authority before final license issuance.
  12. Commencing Operations: Operations can begin after receiving the final license and submitting the Certificate of Occupancy or its equivalent.
  13. Applying for Multiple Licenses: Applicants can apply for multiple licenses, but compliance with the Office’s guidance on Temporary Permits of Interest (TPI) is essential.

Please note that this information is subject to change, and applicants should refer to the latest guidelines or legal counsel for the most current information.

How we can help?

At Cannabis License Experts, we provide you with the guidance to plan your cannabis business, acquire funding, navigate the legal requirements, and acquire the appropriate cannabis license for your operations. As the New York cannabis industry develops, more and more licensed producers will be needed to meet the demands of consumers as Cannabis dispensaries in New York increase in number.

Cannabis License Experts offers support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs, Preventive Control Plans (PCPs), and more.

Our Edibles Compliance division can provide you with a solid plan for your edibles business to help get your products on store shelves.

Contact us today to discover how we can license and legalize your cannabis business to meet federal or provincial regulations.

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