New York Cannabis Growers with Convictions to Get the First Retail Licenses

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Dillon Dubois

Dillon Dubois

Governor Kathy Hochul has released the first-of-its-kind initiative for cannabis growers in New York and people with prior cannabis-related offenses to get early access to the retail cannabis market. Conditional License Applications for the spring of 2022 are now being accepted by the state of New York. Cannabis growers in New York can be the first to enter the cannabis cultivation market making up for the cannabis prohibition enforcement in this farm-to-store initiative.

Governor Hochul said” “New York State is making history, launching a first-of-its-kind approach to the cannabis industry that takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past. The regulations advanced by the Cannabis Control Board today will prioritize local farmers and entrepreneurs, creating jobs and opportunities for communities that have been left out or behind.”

The ‘Seeding Opportunity Initiative’ components

  1. Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries must be owned by equity-entrepreneurs with prior cannabis-related criminal offenses who have a background in small business operating or ownership.
  2. The Board approved a license application for hemp farmers in New York for growing adult-use cannabis this spring with an application portal opening date of March 15th for the Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator License. (Licensing portal link)

The 3 programs of the ‘Seeding Opportunity Initiative’

  1. Equity Owners Lead Program: This program provides Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Licenses to cannabis growers in New York equity-entrepreneur applicants. The first round will include retail locations or locations that are ready to be renovated in high-traffic areas.
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Cannabis growers in New York can apply for these priority licenses when the portal opens in the summer of 2022 with the first licenses being given in the late fall or early summer of 2022.  The goal of this program is to speed up the delivery of investments into communities that have been affected by the cannabis prohibition.

Cannabis growers in New York that want to be applicants must have a cannabis-related offense from before the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA) from March 31, 2021, or to be related to someone with this offense.  They also must have experience owning and operating a business within the state of New York.

2. Farmers First Program: This program provides the Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator License to hemp farmers in New York, so they’ll have the first chance to grow cannabis in this market.  Cannabis growers in New York that wish to farm hemp must comply with quality assurance, safety, and health requirements set forth by the OCM and other sustainability/equity mentorship programs.

The application for the Adult Use Conditional Cultivator License opened on March 15th, 2022.  For more information on the licenses eligibility requirements and what you are allowed to do with your license click here:

3. The New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Program: This program by Governor Hochul freed up $200 million in her 2023 Executive Budget so that funding would be available for cannabis growers in New York and equity entrepreneurs.  This program will direct industry licensing fees and private equity to support the creation of dispensary facilities for those cannabis growers in New York with a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary license.

Under this proposal, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) will provide support with leasing and construction services to site dispensaries in prime locations.  This will be a big help for equity entrepreneurs and cannabis growers in New York as it can be expensive to get your site to be compliant with health, safety, and security guidelines.  The funding should help reduce barriers to entry while positioning these cannabis growers in New York to have long-term success as entrepreneurs. 

To read the other comments from the government officials on the ‘Cannabis Control Board’ click here: