how to open a dispensary in new york

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How to open a dispensary in new york

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Green Rush Consulting provides information on how to open a dispensary in New York. This is including information on other license types the state is offering. Green Rush Consulting has helped win 100+ licenses internationally, and provides information, Consulting Services, and License Application Services to individuals obtaining marijuana licenses in the state of New York.

New York released an adult-use municipality map for towns and cities that have decided to opt-in or opt-out. Check your municipality on the map to see if your town\city has op-in. Check my Municipality here.

New York has become the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. On March 31st, 2021, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a bill to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21 years old and older. The full language of the bill can be viewed here: Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act. Under this bill there are a lot of opportunities for business with 10 license types available, and an expected large license total collectively. Business with existing licenses can be grandfathered in to receive more licenses in the same category but no more than two times of their existing licenses. Counties and municipalities within New York can opt out of cannabis sales in their jurisdiction. Deadline for opting out is December 31, 2021.


This bill also proposes to provide a framework for social and economic equity applicants with the goal of 50% of licenses awarded to such applicants. New York, being one of the most populated states on the east coast of the U.S. is expected to create one of the biggest markets with a projected industry size of $4.2 Billion according to the New York Times.


How much does it cost to open a dispensary in New York?

For a comparison, during the 2015 application process applicants were required to submit the following non-refundable cannabis license fees based on the New York Medical Marijuana Regulations and the Compassionate Care Act Bill S854A


The Office of Cannabis Management will determine the estimated costs and fees when applying to open a dispensary in New York. It is undetermined at this time on what the application fees will be until regulations are developed by the Office of Cannabis Management. Please check back later for updates. Typically, a budget of between $400,000 and $1,000,000 would be required to open a dispensary in New York, depending on facility size and operations. 

You can learn more about the program by downloading several documents from the Office of Cannabis Management which include FAQs, Social and Economic Equity, Penal Fact Sheet, and Governance Structure Fact Sheet


Available New York Marijuana Adult Use License Types

Each of these different license types requires different sets of documents with an addition of what is also required by the state of New York's Office of Cannabis Management and Adult Use License Types. Regulations will be available soon.



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New York Marijuana Adult-Use Cultivator License

How to open a Cannabis Cultivation facility in New York: If applying for an Adult-Use Cultivation License within the state of New York you may also have 1 Processing License and Distribution License, but no interest in more that 1 Cultivation license. An organization with a marijuana growing license can also apply for a Cannabis Nursery license. 

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License

How to open a Cannabis Dispensary in New York: If applying for an Adult-Use Dispensary License within the state of New York, you may not apply for other licenses unless you are a previously medical marijuana registered organization. However, as a new applicant you may apply for up to three dispensary licenses. 

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Delivery License

How to open a Cannabis Delivery service in New York: You may not own more than 1 delivery license within the state of New York. You may not employ more than 25 people with this license. You may apply for a Dispensary Retail license and Delivery License which is allowed. 

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Distributor License

How to open a Adult-use cannabis Distribution service in New York: Adult-Use Distributor license is a wholesaler that buys from cannabis grower and manufacturing facilities and sells to Dispensaries, Delivery Services, and Consumption lounge licensees. 

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Nursery License

How to open a Cannabis Nursery in New York: A nursery license authorizes the production, sale and distribution of clones, immature plants, seeds, and other agricultural products used specifically for the planting, propagation, and cultivation of cannabis by licensed adult-use cultivators, cooperatives, microbusinesses, or registered organizations. You may apply for a Cultivation License and a Nursery License which is allowed. 

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Micro-Business License

How to open a a Cannabis Micro-business in New York: Micro-business operators allows for limited scale cultivation, processing, distribution, delivery, and dispensing operations. They may not have interest in any other license types. The Office of Cannabis Management shall determine the scope of this license type.

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Laboratory License

How to open a Cannabis Testing Laboratory in New York: An owner of a cannabis laboratory testing permit shall not hold a license in any other category, licenses are required to submit samples to a laboratory and keep results of said samples.

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Processing License

How to open a Cannabis processing facility in New York: If applying for an Adult-Use processor license, you may not have interest in more than 1 license per organization. You may not engage in any other activities on the premises with the exception of cultivation. A processor may also obtain a distributor license, solely for the distribution of their own products.

New York Marijuana Adult-Use On-Site Consumption License

How to open a Cannabis Adult-use on site Consumption lounge in New York: If applying for a Adult-Use On site consumption license you may not have interest in other license types, you are able to get three consumption lounge licenses however. You must own the property in which the license is attached. The Office of Cannabis Management shall determine if said location is beneficial to the community.

New York Marijuana Adult-Use Small Business Adult Use Cooperative License

How to open a Cannabis Small Business Cooperative in New York: An Adult Use Small Business Cooperative License will allow the acquisition, possession, cultivation, processing and sale from the premises to licensed distributors, on-site consumption sites, and retail dispensaries. You must be a resident of New York including your partners to obtain this license, and the company must be democratically controlled, and a limited liability company or partnership.

Home Cultivation

New York Adults that are 21 years and older can grow up to six plants in their home for personal use (3 mature plants and 3 immature plants and a maximum of twelve plants per household (6 mature plants and 6 immature plants, even if there are three or more adults over the age of 21 in the residence. Pursuant to the MRTA, the home cultivation of cannabis plants may only be permitted after the Office of Cannabis Management issues regulations governing home cultivation of cannabis, which must be no later than 18 months after the first adult-use retail sale.

New York Medical Marijuana Program

In 2015, the department of health began accepting applications for organizations to obtain a license to cultivate, manufacture, and dispense medical use cannabis to patients who are certified by a practitioner. 


Two fees are due with the application, the first of which is a non-refundable $10,000 application fee, and a registration fee of $200,000. If the applicant is not approved for registration, the $200,000 fee is returned. The Department of Health is not accepting applications as of May 2015. 


Organizations registered to manufacture and dispense medical cannabis are authorized to produce its own brand of medical cannabis products, in accordance with guidelines and approval of the department of health.

New York State's Medical Marijuana Program allows patients who suffer from specific serious conditions to be certified by a practitioner and receive medical marijuana products for medical use with a registry identification card. Registrations are valid for two years from the date of issuance. New York authorizes patients to receive medical marijuana for the following qualifying conditions:

  • Cancer

  • HIV or AIDS

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Spinal cord nerve injury with intractable spasticity

  • Epilepsy

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Chronic pain

  • Opioid alternative for pain that degrades health and functional capability

  • Neuropathy

  • Huntington’s disease

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Substance use disorder

Patients must also have one of these associated or complicating conditions:

  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome

  • Severe or chronic pain

  • Severe nausea

  • Seizures

  • Severe or persistent muscle spasms

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Opioid use disorder​


In July 2014, New York enacted the Compassionate Care Act, authorizing a state medical marijuana program. The initial application window was from April 27, 2015 until June 5, 2015. During this phase, 43 companies submitted applications, of which the state selected five winners on July 31, 2015. Each winner will have a single manufacturing location and four dispensaries. The state does not permit dispensaries to sell whole flower or edibles, and smoking is prohibited. Patients are expected to use cannabis-based oils, liquids, and pills, either orally or through vaporization.

In June 2019, Lawmakers signed a Decriminalization Act into law, which, for example, makes a misdemeanor now a violation and automatically expunges old misdemeanor convictions, impacting nearly 160,000  people with low-level marijuana convictions in the state. 

As of November 2019, there are 110,369 certified medical marijuana patients and 2,583 registered practitioners recommending medical marijuana to patients in New York. There are recently announced regulations, to improve the state’s medical marijuana program which includes changes to the application.

Estimated market size

It will take about 18 months for adult-use sales to go into effect, but estimates put the state's total cannabis market at $4.6 billion in annual sales (this includes the state's illicit market). The legal cannabis industry is expected to capture $1.2 billion in sales by 2023 and $4.2 billion by 2027. - Forbes

how to start a marijuana business new york

If you are just starting your marijuana business, the next best step is to start a Business Plan to help educate your team and be ready to apply for a marijuana business license. If you are ready to apply for a Marijuana Business License in New York, please Contact us or call our offices to set an appointment to get started. You can also select another State Opportunity, or fill out our Contact Form to discuss potential strategies such as Investment or Partnership Opportunities.