New York: How to get a Cannabis dispensary license?

Since 2021, New York has slowly changed its stance on the legalization of cannabis in the state. The first batch of applications for a cannabis dispensary license is now in review. There are still many slots for potential business owners to start. Data shows the cannabis industry as one of the most lucrative in recent years. Those who can apply now will be able to get the opportunity, as New York only plans to give out up to 150 licenses.


The state will prioritize people involved in justice or nonviolent cannabis charges. These businesses tried to enter the cannabis industry in the past and have a second chance to run things legally. Here are the requirements the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) stated:

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  • Applicants must be at least 21 years old.
  • They must have been convicted of a marijuana-related offense before March 2021. The alternative is to have a direct relation to someone convicted (first-degree relationships)
  • Applicant must have a significant presence in the state, such as a residence or corporate location.
  • It does not mean that non-justice-involved individuals and organizations cannot apply. They’re just prioritizing these for the first batch before considering others. Nonprofit organizations connected with these individuals may also try to apply for a license. However, they must show positive net assets.
  • The OCM also requires anyone applying for a license to have a majority stake in whatever company they are starting. It’s the only way they will get an approval.

The Application Process

Anyone applying must complete a Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries form (CAURD). You can find it here, and the OCM also provided a virtual toolkit. It acts as an application guide, showing what’s allowed under their new program. They will only give out a select number per region, so mind the approved licenses as they come out.

Once someone gets an application, they will have at least 30 days to complete it before the state announces a closing date. It will not end there, as there will be a lengthy evaluation period for all those who applied. While the OCM didn’t state every factor going into approval, here is what you can expect to be a part of the consideration:

  • Business Size
  • Any fees, fines, or violations in the past
  • Planned physical location
  • Socioeconomic status of the area
  • Past convictions (if justice is involved)

A Bright Future for Cannabis Businesses in New York

The expectation is that adult weed sales may begin in the state as early as this quarter. New York estimates the industry may bring in over a billion dollars in revenue. Not only that, but it will be responsible for creating thousands of jobs that will benefit the city. The state has significantly changed its stance towards the drug. The prioritization of those involved in convictions is one of their ways to amend relations to those criminalized.

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