The New York State Cannabis Control Board’s latest meeting lasted more than three hours as many throughout the state’s marijuana industry — which is projected to annually generate more than $2 billion for the state’s economy – debated proposed rules and other topics.

The board approved the following at the meeting:

  • Fifty new Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) Licenses, bringing the total number of (at least provisionally) approved dispensaries in New York to 215. Forty-five of those licenses were issued in areas of the state previously subject to an injunction.
  • A host of revised regulations governing the adult-use industry, including regulations addressing medical cannabis companies and other registered organizations entering the recreational market, new definitions for True Parties of Interest and proposed serving sizes. Further revisions to the regulations will be added before the regulations are published, which will trigger a 45-day public commentary period.
  • An over 70-page social equity plan focusing on current initiatives and feedback, as well as summary recommendations by the board’s chief equity officer.

Retail Licenses Needed as Growers Struggle

The new licenses come at a time of great need. Legal delays and other setbacks limited the number of outlets for cannabis farmers to sell their products, pushing many to the brink of bankruptcy, some said at the meeting. Growers also are pushing for the passage of the Cannabis Crop Rescue Act, which would allow cannabis farmers to sell their own or another licensed cultivator’s product directly to consumers until Sept. 30, 2023.

Eighty-five retail CAURD licenses are still available and should be ready for approval at the next meeting.

Several board members criticized the social equity plan, presented by Chief Equity Officer Damian Fagon, for not including measurable action items or objectives. Fagon responded the plan is a “living document” that will change over time and his office was cautious not to “overpromise”.

The board approved the plan but asked to quickly see more specifics on application assistance for social equity licenses.

New York Updates Cannabis Rules

The meeting’s most discussed topics were proposed rule changes. Among the hotter topics:

  • Regulations addressing medical cannabis companies and other registered organizations entering the recreational market: New rules would allow 10 registered organizations to enter the market after Dec. 29; previously, they could not enter for three years.
  • Fees registered organizations would pay to enter the market: The organizations would have to pay $20 million by 2033: $5 million upfront, another $5 million when they open a second retail outlet, and $10 million to be paid in installments tied to the company’s revenue.
  • Dispensary buffer zones: Buffer zones remain the same – 1,000 feet between dispensaries in dense areas and 2,000 feet in other areas — but the Office of Cannabis Management revised the regulations to allow for exceptions to the rule on a case-by-case basis.
  • Guidance on what constitutes a True Party of Interest: The new rules define an investor as a True Party of Interest if they earn up to $250,000 per year, an increase from $100,000 per year.
  • Capping the allowable amount of THC per package of edibles: The proposed cap is 100 milligrams. The state argued the cap prevents overconsumption, but critics point out that it makes New York less competitive than other states.

Harris Beach’s Cannabis Industry Team continues to monitor developments in the fast-moving New York cannabis industry. For more information, please contact attorney Meaghan T. Feenan at (518) 701-2742 and, or the Harris Beach attorney with whom you most frequently work.

This alert is not a substitute for advice of counsel on specific legal issues.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as Washington D.C., New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.

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