A Look at the OCM’s Application Process

The time has come! The New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has begun to accept applications for adult-use cannabis licenses. The application window spans from October 4 to December 18, 2023 (this week, it was expanded from December 4).

Licenses are available for adult-use cultivators, processors, distributors, microbusinesses and retail dispensaries. They are valid for two years and can be renewed every two years.

While there is much to work through to understand what it takes to obtain a license, here is a primer on what to expect and where to get reliable help while navigating this process.


Who can apply

Those seeking to obtain a license must be over the age of 21 and a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Additionally, provisional conditional adult-use retail dispensaries (CAURD) licensees may want to apply during this application window due to the current pending litigation.

Individuals are considered ineligible if they have a felony conviction for fraud, money laundering, forgery or have giving any controlled substance to minors; have engaged in unlawful business practices; or are a police chief, officer or subordinate of a NYS police department.

According to the State’s Cannabis Law, applicants must be “culturally, linguistically, and medically competent to provide services to unserved and underserved areas.”

Applicants can put in for several license types, but only for those for which they are authorized for as a True Party of Interest (TPI). However, this can be a pricy process. Applicants must pay a non-refundable $1,000 fee for each application submitted as well as a licensing fee once the application is approved. Those who qualify for Social and Economic Equity (SEE) will be eligible for a 50 percent reduction in application and licensing fees.


What the application process looks like

Applications must be submitted online through New York Business Express (businessexpress.ny.gov). The process has a save and resume feature, so applications don’t have to be completed in one sitting.

In addition to the application fee, applicants must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), a valid photo ID, up-to-date business information, proof of control of a proposed licensed location premises (except retail and microbusiness applicants), TPI disclosure and other varied documentation.

Once submitted, the applications will be pooled by their license type, SEE certification and provisional status. After the application window closes, each pool will randomize and order submissions in a queue. The OCM will review applications until the number of allotted licenses is reached. If an applicant does not receive a license for this window, they must resubmit an application in a future window.

The OCM provided the following license allocation estimates:

  • Retail Dispensary: 500 to 1,000
  • Microbusiness: 220
  • Indoor Cultivation: 40 (20 each for Tier 1 and 2)
  • Processor: 155 (55 for Type 1, 100 for Type 2); no allocation limit for Type 3
  • Distributor: 30

For more, specific information about the application process, visit the OCM’s FAQ page.


Making sense of the process

The OCM is on tour! The office’s External Affairs unit is visiting cities across NYS to host informational sessions about the license types and application process. These “Roadmaps to Adult-Use Applications” include a presentation and Q&A portion. The tour will make stops near the Finger Lakes Region including the following cities:

  • Syracuse: 6-8 p.m. October 26 at Syracuse Community Connections, 401 South Avenue
  • Ithaca: 5-7 p.m. October 30 at Tompkins County Public Library, 101 East Green Street
  • Rochester: 6-8 p.m. November 1 at Center Library of Rochester & Monroe County, 115 South Avenue
  • Buffalo: 6-8 p.m. November 2 at Northland Workforce Training Center, 638 Northland Avenue

Area businesses and organizations are galvanizing as the license process begins. Blossoming Leaders of Our Cannabis Market in Rochester (B.L.O.O.M. ROC) has collaborated with area businesses to support cannabis opportunities in communities and champion social equity and inclusivity in the state’s cannabis industry. Their program, which runs from October 14 to November 21, offers in-person and virtual sessions for individualized education, technical assistance support, open Q&A forums and professional development opportunities facilitated by community experts.

“Together, we aim to reshape the landscape of the New York State adult-use cannabis industry by providing education, support and empowerment, thus fostering a more equitable and inclusive cannabis market for everyone,” B.L.O.O.M. ROC stated in an Oct. 4 press release.

For further information about B.L.O.O.M ROC, visit https://www.rochesterdigitalsolutions.net/bloom-roc

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