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“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared
when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.”
Oprah Winfrey

If you are one of the many people interested in getting in on one of the hottest predicted cannabis markets in America, NY State, then you are probably spending your days pacing, checking the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) website for updates, and wondering what you should be doing to prepare for when Applications drop.  On Monday, November 21, New York took a significant step toward launching the legal market for recreational cannabis by approving 36 businesses and nonprofits for licenses to operate as the first retail dispensaries in the state. The Office of Cannabis Management also released 282 pages of draft regulations covering broader industry operations and application processes for most licenses.

Regardless of what specific requirements the OCM attaches to its Cannabis Business License Applications, there are steps that you should be taking to prepare yourself and your business for the application process and its overall future success and profitability.

The application is only one step in the creation of your cannabis business. There are other important factors to consider, many of which may be required at some point in the application and licensing process. Why not get started on those now?

The reality is this, if how the OCM rolled out the Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator, the Adult-Use Conditional Processor, and the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License Applications, are indicators of what the future may look like, more than likely you will have very limited window to gather all of your information and be able to apply.

  • The Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator License was created on February 22, 2022, and the application window for the License approved by the Cannabis Control Board was from March 15, 2022 – June 30, 2022.
  • On June 23, 2022, the Cannabis Control Board approved the application, and the opening of the application window for Conditional Processors was June 28, 2022 – August 31, 2022.
  • The Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary Application window was announced on August 12, 2022, and the application window for the License approved by the Cannabis Control Board was August 25, 2022 – September 26, 2022.

Beginning the preparation and planning of your cannabis business NOW will allow you the time later to focus on the proper execution of your strategies. Applying for a cannabis license is a very dynamic process that will require your detailed attention on a multitude of levels simultaneously. The last thing that you want to do is be trying to make it all up as you go. Studies have shown that a well-planned business has the potential to grow 30% faster than an unplanned one. (2 Burke, A., Fraser, S., & Greene, F. J. [2010]. The multiple effects of business planning on new venture performance. Journal of Management Studies, 47[3], 391-415.)

In a competitive market like NY State, your success is dependent on how efficiently and quickly your business can open up and claim market share. And let’s be honest here, some of your potential competitors are way ahead of the curve. Multi-State Operators (MSOs) not only have their plans for NY State ready, but they have tried and true experience in other markets across America. You need to be amply prepared to be able to compete with that.

How does one prepare for the unknown? How can a small business compete with well-prepared Multi-State Operators? The same way the MSOs are. Get all your ducks in a row.

  • Find out if you qualify to own a cannabis business in NY.
  • Form your business entity.
  • Build a business and financial plan.
  • Build your brand and your culture.
  • Build an advisory board to counsel you with the legal, accounting, industry, and marketing knowledge that you don’t have.
  • Raise Capital.
  • Research regulations & learn industry best practices.
  • Create your operational plans and standard operating procedures.
  • Get a jump start on finding a location. Research which Municipalities have opted in. Reach out and begin to build a relationship with that community. Find your real estate.
  • Develop your marketing and advertising strategy.
  • Design your facility.
  • Line up your architects and engineers.
  • Research your equipment and software needed.
  • Start recruiting qualified talent.

Get things locked and loaded for when the application drops because once you apply and things start moving forward for you and your business, they start moving fast, really fast.

What We Know

The OCM has accepted and closed applications for the first three NY cannabis License categories. These categories are:

  • Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator. Open to Hemp growers authorized to grow hemp under the Department of Agriculture and Markets Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program who meet certain other requirements. The application window for the Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator License approved by the Cannabis Control Board was March 15, 2022 – June 30, 2022.
  • Adult-Use Conditional Processor. Open to licensed Cannabinoid Hemp Processors who submitted their hemp processor application before January 1, 2022. The application window for adult-use conditional processor licenses was from June 28, 2022, through August 31, 2022.
  • Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary. CAURD licensees are businesses owned by justice-involved individuals and will be the first retail dispensaries to open for legal adult-use cannabis sales in New York State. CAURD licensees are positioned to make New York’s first legal cannabis sales before the end of 2022. The application window for the CAURD was from August 25, 2022, through September 26, 2022. (Insert Link to Contact Page) Ask About Our Interim Compliance Operational Plan for Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensaries.)

As of October 24, 2022, the OCM has issued a total of 271 Adult Use Conditional Cultivator Licenses, 25 Adult Use Conditional Processor Licenses, and no Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) Licenses. Additionally, we know that the State has given the green light to NY Native American Reservations to enter the cannabis industry and many participating tribes like the Seneca are experiencing a boom.

With only a couple of months left in 2022 and regulations moving forward slowly, it would appear that sales may not happen in 2022 after all. When will the next round of applications open? How much time do you have to prepare?

What We Have Been Told

The OCM has been quiet about what specific information could be required in the upcoming applications and when they may be available. According to a story in the NY Cannabis Insider, Chris Alexander, the Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management said that applications will be available in the middle of 2023 with regulations coming sooner. He only specifically mentioned cultivation and processing, and nothing about the other 7 licensing types to include:

  • Adult-use Microbusiness for businesses growing, manufacturing, distributing, and selling a limited amount of self-grown cannabis products. NOTE: Vertical integration allowed for microbusinesses only
  • Adult-use Cooperative for member-owned businesses following a cooperative business model involved in growing, cultivating, and selling cannabis plants to other licensees. All members must live within the state of New York.
  • Adult-use Delivery for businesses providing courier services for other licensees to make deliveries of cannabis items to a consumer. Businesses are allowed a maximum of 25 full-time, paid delivery staff per week under a single license.
  • Adult-use On-Site Consumption for businesses allowing customers to purchase and consume products on its premises. CONSUMPTION LOUNGES ARE PERMITTED
  • Adult-use Retail Dispensary for dispensaries selling and delivering cannabis products directly to customers.
  • Adult-use Cultivator for facilities involved in growing, cultivating, and selling cannabis plants to a licensed processor.
  • Adult-use Nursery for facilities involved in growing only clones, unfertilized and fertilized cannabis seeds for cultivation by a licensed cultivator, microbusiness, cooperative, and registered organization.
  • Adult-use Processor for facilities involved in manufacturing, preparation, and packaging of cannabis items. Authorizes the sale of cannabis items for later resale by other licensees.
  • Adult-use Distributor for businesses involved in transporting cannabis items in bulk intrastate, from one licensed cannabis establishment to another.

Suffice it to say, applications can and will drop at any time in and/or beyond that time frame. Welcome to the Cannabis Industry, a business world where everything is perpetually in flux and can change on a dime.

Where Does that Leave Me?

Sadly, there is no answer regarding your ability to apply to the State for a license. You may have anywhere from a couple of months to eight months, to a whole year to prepare, develop, and create your cannabis empire on paper. So why wait to get started? There is so much to do and honestly, so little time to do it all.

Whether you need help with building your enterprise, business writing services, creating your brand,  implementing industry best practices, or marketing strategies and support, reach out to us to book your complimentary consultation.

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