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Opening a Marijuana Dispensary in New York

Oct. 7, 2021

Many states,Marijuana in Large Jar including New York, have legalized the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. According to data from Statista, there were over 7,000 dispensaries in the United States as of end-2020, with about 35 dispensaries in New York State. While New York permits retail sales of cannabis, there are certain laws and regulations addressing operating a dispensary. Therefore, if you’re interested in opening a marijuana dispensary in the Empire State, consulting with an experienced New York State marijuana industry attorney is crucial for proper guidance.

With almost five decades of extensive legal experience, I have the knowledge and resources to assist and guide clients in recreational marijuana industry-related matters, including operating a cannabis dispensary. I’m available to discuss your unique situation and help you understand the laws and regulations addressing opening a marijuana dispensary in New York State. My firm is proud to serve clients in Long Island and surrounding communities throughout the Five Boroughs of New York City.

Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA)

On Wednesday, March 31st, 2021, New York became the 15th state to legalize the retail sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use through the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA). Here are some important provisions of the Act:

  • A person older than 21 years can possess up to three ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of cannabis concentrate.

  • Only a maximum of 12 plants can be grown per household with more than one adult.

  • Police are prohibited from using cannabis odor to justify searches.

  • The sale of hemp flowers in the cannabinoid hemp program is permitted.

  • The sale of smokable hemp is permitted once adult-use retail stores become operational.

  • Retail sales of cannabis are likely to commence by 2022.

  • Vertical integration – the control of the full supply chain, such as a business growing, manufacturing, and operating a retail store – will be prohibited. Although, vertical integration will be permitted for existing medical cannabis businesses.

The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will issue licenses to producers and dispensaries and develop laws and regulations regarding how and when a business can participate in the new marijuana industry.

Licensing Requirements

Additionally, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is responsible for regulating the adult-use cannabis market in New York State. The licensing process involves submitting an application that includes the following information or documents:

  • Information about your business

  • Information about manufacturing and sales operations

  • Detailed financial statements

  • Safety and inventory control plans

  • Location and lease information

  • Criminal background checks of both the owner and their employees

  • Marijuana surety bonds

  • License and application fees

More information will be available on the licensing requirements, application fees, and registration costs once the Cannabis Control Board has been appointed.

Application Fees & Cost of Registration

Furthermore, there is limited information available regarding the cost of an adult-use marijuana license in New York. Using the New York Medical Marijuana application cost as a frame of reference, applicants may be required to submit the following fees:

  • Non-refundable application fee of $10,000

  • A registration fee of $200,000 (refunded only if your application is denied)

An experienced attorney can enlighten you about your financing options and determine whether you may qualify for licensing through social equity.

Social Equity

Additionally, the law specifies that 50% of licenses will be issued to “social equity applicants.” These include:

  • Individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana law enforcement

  • Women-owned businesses

  • Minorities

  • Service-disabled veterans

  • Distressed New York farmers

A knowledgeable attorney can determine whether you qualify for licensing through social equity and help you overcome other challenges you may encounter when starting your marijuana business.

Challenges Your Attorney Can Help Overcome

There are certain challenges you may encounter when starting your cannabis dispensary.

Supply Chain Limitations

If you are starting a marijuana dispensary, you must be prepared to handle the supply chain limitations of the cannabis industry. Existing regulations prohibit the transportation of marijuana across state lines. Moreover, there are other regulations pertaining to cultivation, product testing, manufacturing, and taxation.

Counties That Opt-Out

The Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act allows towns, cities, and villages to opt-out of permitting the sale or on-site use of marijuana in retail dispensaries. If a locality in which you plan to set up your business bans adult-use dispensaries, your attorney can determine how to work around the opt-out.

Start-Up Costs

You need money to start a cannabis dispensary. For most potential business owners, capital and running costs can be a significant issue. An attorney can help raise the needed capital or get investors to fund your cannabis business.

Starting a cannabis business or marijuana dispensary involves several challenges. An experienced marijuana attorney can help explore your legal options and determine how best to overcome these challenges.

Let Me Help Protect Your Investment

Opening a marijuana dispensary in New York State involves several complicated procedures. Understanding the laws and regulations, having the required documentation, and meeting the requirements of the licensing board is crucial to ensure that your application is approved. A skilled marijuana attorney can evaluate your needs and enlighten you about everything you need to build a successful marijuana business.

At Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC, I am committed to providing comprehensive legal guidance and strong advocacy to clients in complex business transactions. As your legal counsel, I can evaluate your unique situation, explore your possible legal options, and educate you about the laws and regulations addressing operating a marijuana dispensary. Using my comprehensive legal understanding and personalized services, I can guide you through every step involved in your application and ensure that everything is in order.

Contact my firm – Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC – today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with an experienced marijuana industry attorney. I can offer you the detailed legal counsel, support, and brilliant advocacy you need to navigate important decisions. My firm is proud to serve clients across Long Island, Bellmore, Nassau County, Suffolk County, New York, as well as the Five Boroughs of New York City.