Guide: How to Apply for a New York Adult-Use Cannabis License in 2023

April 23, 2024
October 23, 2023
| Updated
November 9, 2023

Attention New York state residents: after a long wait, as of October 4, 2023, adult-use cannabis license applications are now open for submission!

While this is exciting news across the industry, those going through the  application process can attest to its overwhelming nature. Mountains of documents are required to apply and resources for applicants are generally slim, so we created this guide to help. Below, you’ll find everything you need to complete the NYS cannabis licensing application, plus an outline of different requirements for different license types. 

For everyone who is ready to apply,  there are a few preparation steps you’ll need to make before submitting your cannabis licensing application. For almost all applications to be considered eligible, you’ll need:

  1. A vendor contract or purchase order for an electronic inventory tracking system
  2. Proof of control over the proposed licensed premises. 

We’ll explain these two requirements in detail, in addition to explaining the entire application process. By the end of this guide, you’ll know what actions you’ll need to take next and all the documentation you’ll need to complete your New York state cannabis license application.

The deadline for submitting all adult-use license applications is Monday, December 4, 2023, by 5:00 PM EST, so we recommend getting started ASAP with the steps outlined below.


NYS Cannabis Licensing Eligibility Requirements

Pro-cannabis New Yorkers are celebrating this long-expected recreational freedom, but not everyone in New York can submit an cannabis licensing application. There are a handful of eligibility requirements required for applicants, including:

  • Being 21 years of age, which applies to the applicant and anyone in the ownership structure.
  • Being a United States citizen, or a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. For privately and publicly traded businesses, this requirement varies slightly:
    • Privately Held Business - each of the principal officers and directors must be a citizen of the United States or persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
    • Publicly Traded Business - each of the principal officers and over one-half of directors must be citizens of the United States or persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.

Next, you must provide a vendor contract or purchase order for the licensees’ electronic inventory tracking system that can integrate with the Office’s seed-to-sale inventory tracking system, Biotrack. For cultivator and processor applicants, you’ll  be required to email this information, as instructed by the Office, prior to final licensure.

Additionally, cultivators, processors and distributors must provide proof of control over the proposed licensed premises by uploading an executed deed if you own the property, or by uploading an executed lease agreement if you are leasing the property. Although you will be allowed to submit your application without premises information, you won’t be considered eligible until it’s been submitted.

For retail dispensaries and microbusinesses there’s some good news: you can apply for a provisional license without this proof. For those who have it, there will be an expedited application window (closing November 3, 2023, 5:00PM EST). Otherwise, you can apply for the provisional license November 4 and December 4, 2023.

To top off the application process, you’ll need to provide payment for the non-refundable application fee.

All of the above is just the tip of the iceberg. When submitting your NYS cannabis licensing application, you’ll need to fill out a solid amount of paperwork. It’s accomplishable, especially with the help of our guide, but organization is key. We’ve put together a check-list to help you get your ducks in a row. 

Checklist: Required documents for your application

  1. Name and contact information for all True Parties of Interest (TPI).
    Need help? Read: What is a True Party of Interest?
  2. Valid photo ID, issued by a local, state or federal government
  3. Up to date business formation and organizational documents such as:
    1. Certificate of incorporation
    2. Certificate of limited partnerships
    3. Certificates of authority
    4. Articles of organizations
    5. Charters
    6. Bylaws
    7. Partnership agreements
    8. Operating agreements
    9. Agreements between any two or more persons of the applicant that relate in any manner to the assets, property or profit of the applicant
  4. Documentation supporting the applicant’s Qualified Social and Economic Equity (SEE) eligibility, including but not limited to:
    1. Proof of address and residency
    2. Proof of conviction
    3. Proof of income, if applicable
  5. A vendor contract or purchase order for the licensees’ electronic inventory tracking system that can integrate with the Office’s seed-to-sale inventory tracking system (cultivator and processor applicants will be required to email this information, as instructed by the Office, prior to final licensure).
  6. The basic contact information of any law firm, counsel, or consultant that assisted you with the application.
  7. A copy of the certification of completion if you have completed any workforce or training programs offered by the Office (if applicable)
  8. If you are seeking an adult-use processor license, other than for applicants that are applying with an existing compliance facility, proof of a qualified third-party Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) audit is required within 12 months of commencing licensed operations, and if you are planning to perform extraction using a volatile or hydrocarbon extraction method, before commencing operations, you must submit:
    1. A final certification letter from a licensed professional engineer or registered architect which certifies the completed installation of a professionally designed, commercially manufactured extraction system, that is compliant with applicable state or local fire, safety or building codes.
    2. A letter from the municipal jurisdiction’s fire marshal, or their designee, stating that a final inspection of the facility has been conducted and that the processor has demonstrated compliance with applicable fire codes and/or regulations; and
    3. A certification of occupancy, or equivalent document, from local building officials that permits for extraction related rooms or areas have been closed as applicable.

In addition, if you are applying for a final retail dispensary, microbusiness, or ROD license, the following must be collected before a final license is issued (these materials are not required to apply for a provisional license):

  1. If you are selling non-cannabis products, a Certificate of Authority issued by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for the premises.
  2. A copy of your Notice to Municipality submitted to the appropriate party, available on the Office’s website. A copy of this notice will be requested when you submit information regarding the retail premises.
  3. A list of all management staff, including first name, last name, and title, and indicating the employee in charge.

Paperwork is the name of the game when applying for a NYS cannabis license. For an exhaustive list of documentation,  check out OCM’s guide.

Benefits for Social and Economic Equity (SEE) Certification applicants

If you’re a Social and Economic Equity (SEE) certification applicant, then you’re in some luck. All SEE entrepreneurs will be eligible for the following benefits in order to promote access and business viability: 

  1. 50% reduction on application fees and application assistance from the Office. 
  2. 50% reduction in licensing fees and direct support through the Cannabis Hub and Incubator Program (CHIP). 
  3. License review priority for adult-use cannabis licenses. 

These are some pretty helpful benefits, so take note if you’re a SEE certification applicant!

How to apply: NYS cannabis licensing

The most difficult part about applying for NYS cannabis licensing is gathering the appropriate documents, which we have outlined in detail above. Once you have done that, the rest of the application process is a breeze. 

Depending on some of the details in your application, the process will consist of two to four parts, including:

  1. Primary License Application 
  2. Social and Economic Equity (SEE) Certification 
  3. True Parties of Interest (TPI) Disclosures 
  4. Location and Operations Section 

When you’re ready to apply, you’ll want to head to the application portal to get started. All applications must be submitted online through New York Business Express, so following the provided  link is critical when submitting your application. Once you’re there, you’ll need to create an account to continue. 

Remember, the deadline for submitting all adult-use license applications is Monday, December 4, 2023, by 5:00 PM EST.

If you are having difficulty registering your business please call the NYS Business Information Center at 518-485-5000. Monday through Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm for assistance.


Fee structure for application and licensing in New York

Be prepared to pay fees when submitting your NYS cannabis licensing application. You can expect to pay two fees, which is  standard when acquiring your adult-use cannabis license in New York:

  1. An application fee is paid on submission
  2. A licensing fee is paid when you are awarded your license

The cost of the two different fees varies between application and licensing fees. In general, here is what you can expect to pay:  

Application fees

  1. Standard applications require a non-refundable $1,000 application fee
  2. Registered Organization with Dispensing (ROD) and Registered Organization Non-Dispensing (ROND) applications require a $10,000 non-refundable application fee
  3. Qualified Social and Economic Equity (SEE) applicants will receive a 50% reduction in these application fees.

Licensing fees

  1. Licensing fees are collected after the approval of the application for licensure by the Cannabis Control Board. 
  2. Prior to final issuance of a license, an applicant shall pay a licensing fee for the specific license type.

There are different types of licensing fees, including adult-use cultivator license fees. This license allows successful applicants to:

  • Grow, clone, harvest, dry, cure, grade and trim cannabis plants
  • Sell such cannabis to a processor, or process cannabis products under their own processor license.

For anyone submitting an application for NYS cannabis licensing, It is important to take note of Ownership Restrictions, which states:

“No person, other than a passive investor, may have an interest in more than one cultivation license or any other license that authorizes cannabis cultivation. A cultivator may also hold one processor license and one distributor license, as well as a nursery license, when made available by the Office of Cannabis Management. Under no circumstances, can a cultivator or its true parties of interest own or have any direct or indirect interest in a retail dispensary, delivery, or on-site consumption license. “

Adult use licensing costs

Adult-Use Processor License Fees

Processors are licensed by activity type shown below. Licensing fees vary depending on the processing activities type applied for and approved by the NYS Cannabis Control Board.
Type Amount
Adult-Use Application Fee, per application $1,000
Extracting, Infusing and Blending, and Packaging, Labeling and Branding $7,000 per processing premises
Infusing and Blending, Packaging, Labeling and Branding $4,000 per processing premises
Packaging, Labeling and Branding Including for the Exclusive Performance of White Labeling Agreements $2,000 per processing premises, provided, however, if applying as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 of any cultivation type, the processor license fee shall be $500 per premises. Licenses exclusively entering white labeling agreements pay one licensing fee.

Adult-Use Distributor License Fees

Type Amount
Adult-Use Application Fee, per application $1,000
Adult-Use Distributor License Fee $7,000 per processing premises
(If a distributor also holds a processor license, fee reduced to $2,500)

Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License Fees

Type Amount
Adult-Use Application Fee, per application $1,000
Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License Fee $7,000
Limited Retail Consumption Facility (LRCF) $3,000
(in addition to the $7,000 retail dispensary licensee fee)

Adult-Use Microbusiness License Fees

Type Amount
Adult-Use Application Fee, per application $1,000
Adult-Use Microbusiness License Fee $4,500

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