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New York To Eliminate Cannabis Cultivator Licensing Fees For Two Years

Emily Mullins

by Emily Mullins

March 26, 2024 11:19 am ET Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
Fact checked by Kymberly Drapcho
New York To Eliminate Cannabis Cultivator Licensing Fees For Two Years

The current state of cannabis in New York is messy, to say the least. Unlicensed cultivators and dispensaries are running rampant, and many are complaining that the process for licensing is taking too long. With medicinal and adult-use (recreational) marijuana now fully legalized, New York is ranking as one of the top states for consumption anywhere in the country. However, they still have a lot of work to do to fully stabilize their market.

Fortunately, legislators are taking big steps to make this happen. Until very recently, there were only 53 licensed dispensaries open in the entire state, with a meager 20 in New York City. To meet consumer demand, roughly 1,500 unlicensed dispensaries have also popped up, largely within New York City. As a measure to help stem the tide of unlicensed stores, the state’s Cannabis Control Board announced that it is rapidly awarding licenses to 114 new dispensaries and waiving cannabis cultivator licensing fees for the next two years.

The exemption applies to fees for dispensaries shifting to non-conditional license categories, such as cultivation businesses and micro businesses. These fees can vary from $4,500 to $40,000. There are now 88 licensed dispensaries in the state, with more set to open this year.

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“Farmers are the backbone of our State, and we’re making sure the family farms across New York that are building our cannabis industry have a real chance to succeed. I have made it clear that New York State needs to issue more dispensary licenses and kickstart cannabis sales in New York, and this two-year promise to Adult-Use Conditional Cultivators will make sure these farmers can reap the benefits of this growing industry,” said Governor Kathy Hochul in a press release.

This is only the first step that lawmakers are taking to fix the state’s cannabis program. The governor has strongly criticized the implementation of the state’s adult-use cannabis program and has now initiated a comprehensive audit of the entire program, which involves assigning a commissioner from the Office of General Services and other state officials to work closely with cannabis industry regulators. Their mission is to accelerate the cannabis licensing process and enhance the efficiency of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).

Meanwhile, the state Senate has designated $128 million from the budget to assist struggling cannabis growers. This aid includes tax adjustments and financial support aimed at bolstering farmers in the industry.

The OCM director, Chris Alexander, stated, “New York State’s cannabis market is moving in the right direction, and by waiving licensing fees for two years, we’re making sure conditional cultivators have a chance to reap the rewards of this growing industry. As we mark three years of legalized adult-use cannabis in New York state, we look forward to this next chapter of our cannabis story.”

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