New York Governor Announces Plan to “Aggressively Expand New York’s Legal Cannabis Market”

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the largest expansion of New York State’s legal cannabis market to date, with hundreds of licenses being made available to individuals and businesses interested in legally growing, processing, distributing, and selling cannabis.

According to a press release sent by the governor’s office, the application period is open as of today, October 4, and will remain so for two months.  The Governor also announced the results of “continued aggressive enforcement against the illegal sale of cannabis across the state undertaken by the Office of Cannabis Management and the Department of Taxation and Finance, which to date has yielded the seizure of more than 8,500 pounds of illicit product with an estimated street value of more than $42 million.”

Governor Hochul also announced new partnerships with localities that will enable them to pursue padlocking orders against businesses illegally selling cannabis from State courts, and a new multi-agency initiative to target illegal operators for labor violations, “thus significantly increasing fines and penalties that businesses may face.”

The governor’s office says New York’s legal cannabis market “is now poised to be one of the largest in the world; one that will ultimately generate hundreds of millions in revenue annually, as well as create or sustain thousands of jobs across the state, all while prioritizing equity, promoting small business growth, ensuring product quality, and maintaining consumer safety.”

“We know there’s room for improvement as New York works to launch a brand-new cannabis industry and crack down on illicit operators, and I’m committed to working with all stakeholders to get the job done right,” Governor Hochul said. “My Administration is laser-focused on shutting down illegal storefronts, protecting the health and safety of children, and helping small businesses thrive. We will continue working to build the most equitable adult-use cannabis industry in the nation that invests in communities and rights the wrongs of the past.”

Chris Alexander, Executive Director of New York State Office of Cannabis Management said, “This is a significant moment for entrepreneurs who have been waiting for an opportunity to join this consequential market. We’re building the biggest and fairest cannabis market in the world, and the opening of a new application window means an expansion of opportunity. New York’s market is centered around equity, with the nation’s strongest anti-trust protections in place that ensures small operators will forever have a place in our cannabis industry. I appreciate Governor Kathy Hochul’s fierce commitment to anti-trust regulations in cannabis, and I’m eager to see what this new crop of entrepreneurs can do to transform cannabis in and out of New York.”

Tremaine Wright, Chair of New York State Cannabis Control Board said, “New York State remains steadfast in its efforts to build an equitable, competitive and diverse cannabis industry. Today, the day our general application window opens, marks a huge step forward in making our vision of an equitable and accessible New York cannabis market a reality. Under Governor Hochul’s leadership New York has ushered in strong rules and protections to ensure all licensed cannabis businesses have a real chance to compete. I am excited to continue working with the Governor and the Office of Cannabis Management to grow this sector responsibly, thoughtfully, and in ways that acknowledge and correct the damage caused by a century of cannabis prohibition.”

You can read the Application Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions here.

OCM and the CCB will accept applications for review and will begin awarding licenses for cultivators, processors, distributors, microbusinesses, and retail dispensaries in early 2024. During this application window, currently operational Adult-Use Conditional Cultivators and Conditional Processors will also be able to apply to transition to full, non-conditional licenses. Entrepreneurs seeking to apply for licenses will be able to file their applications through the New York Business Express (NYBE) platform, accessible here.

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