State opens application period for licenses to grow and sell cannabis

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ALBANY, N.Y. — New York State announced that hundreds of licenses will soon be available to people who want to grow and sell cannabis legally. In addition, the state is continuing to crack down on illegal cannabis sales.

With a limited number of spots, this is expected to be highly competitive.

There are five different licenses — cultivator, processor, retail dispensary, distributor, and microbusiness.

The state’s application period for cannabis licenses opens on Wednesday and will remain open for the next two months. You can learn how to apply here.

Governor Kathy Hochul said the State is preparing for the largest expansion of its legal cannabis market to date. The State’s Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board will review the applications.

Hochul said the State is slowly rolling out its cannabis market to avoid shocks in the industry and the collapse of small cannabis businesses. She expects New York’s legal cannabis market to eventually generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually and to create thousands of jobs.

The concept allows entrepreneurs to be completely in control of the entire process, from start to finish, to encourage small-batch, high quality products.

“It really is a license designed for small craft operators, right? I think about in Rochester — Three Heads K-2, all these amazing breweries that we have, this is very much what this license is designed to represent,” says prospective licensee, Steve Vandewalle.

“The Finger Lakes Region is a massively sought after argo-tourism area in the country for craft beer, for craft wine, for amazing food,” Vandewalle explains. “It will be the same for cannabis.

To crack down on illegal cannabis, the OCM and the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance have partnered and to seize more than 8,500 pounds of unregulated product. That has an estimate value of $42 million.

The governor says new partnerships between local and state agencies will help to shut down illegal cannabis businesses and hold them accountable for labor violations, which would significantly increase the fines they face. Since June 7, the State has conducted 246 inspections of cannabis vendors.

Applications close on December 4, and the State expects application review to start by January. Once a applicant gets a tentative green light, they have to go through many more hoops — and pay a lot more in fees — before they get a final license.

Stores can open up the day they have a final license in hand.