How to Apply For a Cannabis License in New York – Start a Legal Cannabis Dispensary in NY

New York’s Cannabis Licensing Limbo Continues

Recent developments have left New York‘s blossoming adult-use cannabis market in further uncertainty. The court order, which was initiated to halt new inductions into the state’s emerging cannabis arena, has held its ground following a recent hearing at the Ulster County Supreme Court. This, in spite of a fresh appeal from the state attorney general pushing for the cessation of the stay.

For 30 prompt applicants, there’s a glimmer of hope as they might just get the green light to inaugurate their cannabis ventures. However, for several hundreds of aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs—ranging from small business owners to the major multistate marijuana entities—the horizon is foggy. They find themselves caught in a holding pattern, awaiting the outcome of the ongoing dispute against New York’s Conditional Adult Use Recreational Dispensary (CAURD) program.


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The Genesis of the Licensing Controversy

Rewinding to August 2, this intricate web of legalities sprouted when a consortium of four service-disabled military veterans laid down a lawsuit against the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) and the Cannabis Control Board. Their contention revolves around the constitutionality of the CAURD program.

With ambitions to inaugurate dispensaries in key locations like Manhattan and Queens, these veterans find themselves thwarted by the CAURD’s eligibility criteria. The reason? Their status doesn’t resonate with the “justice impacted individuals” definition, a key requirement for a CAURD license due to its emphasis on those with specific past arrests.

To paint the picture of New York’s current cannabis landscape: as of the last Friday update, the OCM confirmed a mere 23 licensed adult-use stores in operation throughout the state, with only five being exclusively delivery-oriented.

The Coalition’s Stand

Parallelly, another legal storm brews with the Coalition for Access to Regulated and Safe Cannabis (CARSC) spearheading a lawsuit. This collective primarily comprises major cannabis players or MSOs.

Drawing attention back to the aforementioned Supreme Court hearing, Judge Kevin Bryant’s August 18 injunction, which slammed the brakes on issuing any new cannabis licenses, remains unyielding. The judge expressed apprehensions over the CUARD program’s alignment with the state’s marijuana legalization law from March 2021. In his perspective, the OCM’s reluctance to grant licenses to certain contenders has likely inflicted “irreparable harm”. The next volley of arguments is slated for September 15.

State’s Retaliation and Licensing Debates

In response, the state formally contested Bryant’s injunction, as documented in a court filing on August 24. However, this injunction exemption only graces those who had predominantly completed their application processes by August 7. Recently, the state unveiled a roster of 30 such eligible retail operators.

Yet, the drama doesn’t end there. The recent court session, spanning approximately 35 minutes, witnessed the plaintiffs’ attorneys pushing for the public release of documentation delineating the state’s strategy against the rampant 2,000 illegal cannabis vendors in New York. They also flagged concerns over certain licenses, pointing out potential legal infringements like proximity to schools and towns with dispensary prohibitions.

Judge Bryant, however, remained noncommittal, deferring immediate decisions on these contentions.

What Lies Ahead?

For other retail applicants yearning for exemption from the injunction, the deadline to present their arguments is set for September 5, as mandated by Bryant.

With each judicial hearing and state response, New York’s cannabis business environment oscillates between hope and ambiguity. As potential entrepreneurs await clearer skies, one can’t help but wonder how this will shape the future trajectory of New York’s cannabis industry.