Delays Expected for Adult-Use Cannabis Licensing

Michael Roche


Although New York State legalized adult-use cannabis several months ago, businesses hoping to operate within the space, whether as a grower, distributor, or dispensary, have been stuck in a holding pattern. As we have explained from the outset, the state must take a number of additional steps before the industry will be up and running. The first major milestone will be the appointment of the members of the Cannabis Control Board. However, the state legislature concluded its 2021 session on Friday, June 11, with no appointments having been made.

The Cannabis Control Board was established under the Cannabis Law to oversee the implementation of adult-use cannabis in New York. The Board will consist of five members: the chairperson, who will be nominated by Governor Cuomo and approved by the state Senate; two members appointed by the governor; and one member appointed by each house of the state legislature. When established, the Board will have the ability to limit the number of licenses to be issued under the Cannabis Law and adopt rules and regulations relating to the cultivation, processing, packaging, marketing, and sale of cannabis. The Board will also create the forms of applications for licenses. Again, appointing members to the Cannabis Control Board is a necessary first step toward realizing a functioning adult-use cannabis sector.

Since Governor Cuomo signed this legislation into law, no official nominations have been submitted. Some have speculated that the legislature will return in the near future to address appointments and other narrow issues, but there is no guarantee that it will do so. In the meantime, New York’s official Office of Cannabis Management website is now available as a new source of information on the Cannabis Law.

While we can expect delays to continue in the adult-use cannabis space, there are steps prospective industry-members can take today to prepare for when applications become available. Given the potential for the Board to limit the number of licenses available, a little preparation now could mean the difference between obtaining a license or being left without one when the Board begins issuing licenses.

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