Legal Counsel for Opening a Dispensary in NY
With the passage of the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA), the sale and use of recreational marijuana are legal in New York. Entrepreneurs can see the financial potential in opening a retail dispensary. The New York comptroller has estimated that the industry could generate more than $3 billion annually. A New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association study estimates the marijuana industry to be $4.6 billion by 2023.
Marijuana and cannabis are undoubtedly big business. But the industry is also highly regulated.
Do you want to open a dispensary in New York? Contact our marijuana dispensary lawyer in Albany today at (518) 444-4428 or contact us online to learn the steps required to be successful.
New York Cannabis and Marijuana License
MRTA legalizes marijuana use for those 21 years and older, but you cannot legally buy marijuana at the street corner. Only purchases made at state-licensed dispensaries are legal. New York is finalizing its rules and regulations related to opening and operating a retail establishment. No doubt there will be strict regulations, including necessary licensing, that will require a keen legal eye.
New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will license all aspects of the cannabis chain: cultivators, processors, distributors, and dispensaries. Each license will have its own restrictions and requirements.
OCM will also oversee New York’s Medical Marijuana Program, which is currently regulated by the New York State Department of Health. Medical marijuana (MMJ) has been legal since 2014, and New York’s first dispensaries opened in 2016.
Recreational use licenses are expected to be issued beginning sometime in 2022. Using medical marijuana licenses as a guide, getting into the business won’t be cheap. MMJ applicants must pay a non-refundable $10,000 application fee and a refundable $200,000 registration fee.
Available adult-use licenses include the following:
- Adult-Use Cultivator
- Adult-Use Distributor
- Adult-Use Retail Dispensary
- Adult-Use On-Site Consumption
- Adult-Use Delivery
- Adult-Use Laboratory
- Adult-Use Processor
- Adult-use Nursery
- Adult-use Cooperative
- Adult-use Microbusiness
Vertical integration that controls the supply chain (growing, manufacturing, and selling) will be prohibited except for existing medical cannabis businesses. All licenses will expire after two years and will require renewal.
Lab testing and labeling requirements will protect consumers. New York will track from seed to sale to ensure compliance. BioTrackTHC is New York’s official traceability system.
Social and Economic Equity Applicants
MRTA specifies a goal that half of all adult-use licenses will be granted to social and economic equity applicants. These licensees cannot sell or transfer their licenses for the first three years after issuance.
Social and economic equity applicants include the following:
- Individuals from Communities Disproportionately Impacted by Cannabis Enforcement
- Minority-Owned Businesses
- Women-Owned Businesses
- Distressed Farmers
- Service-Disabled Veterans
Converting Medical Dispensary to Dual-Use
Existing medical marijuana operators can pay a one-time special licensing fee to convert up to three of their MMJ dispensaries to dual medical-recreational stores. Other requirements will apply.
Maintaining Regulatory Compliance
Adherence to regulations won’t end when the dispensary doors open. Ongoing compliance metrics and regulations are significant aspects of running a cannabis business. Failure to fully comply with any applicable federal, state, and local laws can result in license revocation, monetary penalties, or criminal sanctions.
Opt-Out Decisions at the Local Level
MRTA allowed municipalities to decline permitting dispensaries and/or on-premises consumption lounges by Dec. 31, 2021. According to OCM, about one-third of New York’s municipalities (cities, towns, and villages) won’t allow marijuana dispensaries and/or lounges within its jurisdictions. The Rockefeller Institute of Government has an online marijuana opt-out tracker.
Legal Support for Opening a Dispensary in NY
Opening a cannabis dispensary in the Albany area requires a thorough understanding of the law, licensing requirements, compliance, regulations, and more. Instead of being overwhelmed by the process, lean on our team of experienced attorneys.
The Kindlon Law Firm, PLLC can navigate the complicated procedures to improve the chance your application will be approved. Our legal counsel can help you build a successful marijuana business.
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