Nearly two years after legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use, New York State inches closer to advancing its potentially large, legal-weed market. Recently, the state doubled the number of cannabis dispensary licenses it will award from 150 to 300—restricted to nonprofits and business owners formerly incarcerated on cannabis charges or with family members adversely affected by marijuana enforcement.
Chairman of the Cannabis Control Board, Tremaine Wright, acknowledged “with this expansion, more entrepreneurs will be able to participate in the first wave of this industry, allowing them to capitalize on the growing demand for cannabis products.” He added, “as more businesses enter this market, the innovation and competition will increase, leading to better quality experiences for consumers. The expansion of New York’s cannabis market will benefit everyone involved in this exciting industry.”
The Cannabis Control Board (CCB) received a whopping 900 applications for New York State’s first round of dispensary spots, which prompted the doubling of the license allotment from 150 to 300. So far, the CCB has only awarded 66 cannabis dispensary licenses, with just four shops (three in NYC) opening for the state’s first legal marijuana sales in December of 2022. Baby steps.
Unfortunately, 40% of the remaining proposed cannabis dispensary licenses are allocated for parts of New York State that can’t issue them—Brooklyn, central New York, the mid-Hudson region, the Finger Lakes, and western New York. A ruling by a federal judge in November halted licensure efforts in these locations due to ongoing litigation with a Michigan-based company, challenging the selection requirements for applicants.
New York State is appealing the decision, however, all cannabis business plans from the affected areas remain in limbo until the lawsuit is resolved.
In the meantime, eager applicants await with high hopes for a hasty court decision, while New York officials continue to step up their efforts to crack down on unauthorized weed shops and trucks, popping up throughout the state.
66 cannabis dispensary licenses down, 234 to go.