The New York cannabis industry is in the process of expansion. As cannabis becomes more widely accepted and legalized throughout states, consumers are seeing more variety in products and brands.
While many people believe that marijuana is a dangerous substance that needs to be strictly regulated, statistics show otherwise. With this being the case, entrepreneurs interested in becoming part of the state’s recreational cannabis sector must wait as New York decides how it will legalize recreational marijuana.
Those interested in starting a cannabusiness in New York will need to understand marijuana regulation, as well as the cannabis management authority in place. But most importantly, you’ll need to know what’s involved in obtaining a marijuana business license in New York.
In this article, we’ll break down what you need to know about New York cannabis legalization and how to apply for a cannabis license.
Before we get started, let’s first understand marijuana’s legality in the state and how it’s progressed.
Interested in starting an adult use cannabusiness in New York? Contact us today to learn how we facilitate the application process and support legal operations that hold cannabis licenses.
Why Is Marijuana Illegal in New York?
Marijuana has been banned at the federal level since it was first classified as a schedule one drug under the Marijuana Tax Act.
In 1970, New York State legislators passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which classified marijuana as a controlled substance. The legislation defined possession of a small amount of marijuana as an unclassified misdemeanor, with higher penalties for larger quantities.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed three marijuana bills into law. The legislation created the Compassionate Care Act, which legalized medical cannabis for patients suffering from serious health conditions.
The bill also set up a licensing program to regulate the production and sale of medical flower in New York State. This resulted in the establishment of five producers, or suppliers, who could grow and distribute medicinal cannabis. These are the companies:
New York Canna
The legislation additionally established the Office of Cannabis Management, which was tasked with overseeing and implementing the regulatory framework for cannabusinesses.
Under Cuomo’s leadership, New York has made significant strides in reforming its marijuana laws to meet the needs of its patients. However, New York remains one of the last states in the country that hasn’t legalized recreational cannabis use for adults age 21 and over – until now, that is!
Medical Cannabis & Recreational Marijuana in New York
New York has allowed licensed businesses to dispense medical herbs since 2016, allowing more than 143,000 patients access to their medicine. While it has been one of the slowest states to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana, New York has some of the most progressive cannabis laws in America. The state is now paving the way for broad access to CBD oil products, edibles, and more.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill that includes provisions to allow individuals convicted of marijuana possession misdemeanor crimes prior to 2019 (when recreational cannabis becomes fully legal in New York) to file a petition for a criminal record expungement through New York’s off-duty conduct law.
Gov. Cuomo also recently announced that the state plans to issue four additional licenses for businesses that want to dispense medical cannabis, an increase from the five currently operating across New York’s 54 counties and five boroughs.
But what about marijuana regulation? How will this work for the retail dispensaries, on site consumption sites, adult use cultivators, and other registered organizations looking to sell cannabis to New York adults?
New York state’s medical marijuana program has done a lot for patients living in the state. Medical marijuana is essential for some, and with medical cannabis legalization, New York has made tremendous strides to ensure cannabis prohibition had minimal impact on patients.
Unlike adult use retail sale cannabis, selling cannabis for medical purposes is a bit more flexible. It’s also a lot less work than selling cannabis for adult use retail sale, as patients and registered organizations can access any of the five medical marijuana companies in New York state to purchase their medicine.
Medical cannabis license holders are not permitted to operate retail dispensaries alongside cultivation or processing operations; they may only have one site location to sell within the state’s medical marijuana program.
Unlike those with an adult use distributor license, licensed distributors of medical marijuana use the state’s program under the guidance initiated by the Cannabis Control Board.
Medical marijuana products are available in New York. But adult use marijuana is still just on the horizon.
Voters legalized recreational cannabis. However, cannabusinesses must wait for marijuana regulation standards to completely outline how the state will legalize recreational cannabis.
New York’s Governor has months to create the rules and regulations that will govern licensed adult use cannabusinesses in New York. Many areas of focus must be addressed, including:
The state is still working on creating a licensing structure for its retail dispensary license. Until they finalize it, things are still up in the air about how the license types will work and how they’ll be issued.
While many business owners are hoping to open their own cannabusinesses, others may see an opportunity to work for a company that already has a marijuana retail license.
Regardless of whether you’re looking at starting your own cannabusiness or joining someone else’s, there are a lot of key aspects to take into consideration.
Local Laws, Ordinances, and Business License Requirements
New York cannabis businesses must abide by state regulations. However, cannabis operators may also be subject to a few local laws and ordinances that regulate where they can operate as well as the overall nature of their business operations.
Localities can have up to three months to approve a business license application.
Business Insurance Options
Under New York’s adult use cannabis laws, cannabis businesses must keep all of their records and materials for at least five years before they are eligible to dispose of them. But there’s more to it than that.
Businesses must also maintain business liability insurance or surety bonds as well as worker’s compensation insurance. Some cannabusinesses may need additional insurance policies depending on their location, building requirements, and projected revenue.
Business Banking Services
New York still has not approved any banking services for cannabis-related businesses. Even when the state begins licensing adult use marijuana companies, they will likely only be allowed to do business with other licensees through a state agency that will be set up to manage all financial operations of the state’s marijuana program.
The state is also still creating regulations to cover business permits. Business permit requirements are different for every municipality in New York, so cannabis operators must check with local and county offices before applying for a state license.
Adult Use Retail Sales Cannabis License Types
As mentioned above, the state is still deciding on the best way to issue cannabusiness licenses and what those licensing options will look like.
Businesses that sell marijuana recreationally must focus on preparing their applications for a license type called an A-license. These licenses will be issued to retailers who can sell both medical and recreational products.
The state may also issue permits for B-licenses or C-licenses. These license types are designed to govern different kinds of cannabis businesses and the products they sell.
Business License Fees
The state has not released any information about what business license fees will look like under its adult use cannabis laws.
State officials have estimated that the application fee alone could be as much as $25,000 with annual renewal costs of up to $20,000. It’s likely that businesses with multiple license types will face even higher fees.
Business License Security Deposits
Business owners who file for a marijuana business license will likely have to pay security deposits depending on how many separate permits they are applying for and the nature of their operations.
Businesses may also be required to make large capital investments when it comes to certain construction and improvements in order to meet the state’s security requirements.
Business License Transferability
Currently, New York does not have any transferable cannabusiness licenses. It is possible that the state will eventually allow businesses to sell their license or use it as leverage to obtain funding for future projects. However, at this point, there’s no license transferability available.
If a company wants to sell its interest in a cannabusiness, it must dissolve the business and start an entirely new one.
Business License Appeals
The rules for appeal and revocation of cannabbusiness licenses are still unclear at this point in time. Business owners who wish to protest or contest pending license denials can expect a lengthy appeals process that may take as long as nine months to complete.
Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)
The Office of Cannabis Management is tasked with the responsibility of managing all financial and operational aspects of New York State’s adult use cannabis program. This agency will be responsible for tracking every ounce of marijuana produced in the state as well as issuing tax receipts to businesses that pay sales taxes on marijuana products.
Commercial cannabis business owners must register with the OCM before applying for all other marijuana licenses.
The OCM will also be responsible for creating and enforcing cannabis business license requirements.
Business License Seals
New York State is developing a unique seal of approval that every marijuana-related business must use on its product packaging, labels and marketing materials.
The state hopes that the seal will enable state authorities to more easily determine whether or not a business is in compliance with all existing adult use cannabis laws.
Businesses found in violation of these rules may face penalties as severe as license revocation or criminal charges.
Business License Certifications for Employees
All employees working within New York’s adult use cannabis industry may have to obtain valid certification from the Department of Health. These certifications will ensure that all workers have received proper training before handling any marijuana products or serving to customers.
New York is expected to release more information about employee training and certification requirements in the near future.
Business License Reporting Requirements
New businesses working within New York’s adult use cannabis industry will be required to report all sales transactions for tax purposes within seven days of a transaction taking place. They must also track inventory levels, control overages and shortages, and report them to the OCM within seven days of discovery.
Business owners are prohibited from selling their marijuana products if the inventory levels do not match up with actual sales numbers. This is to ensure these products don’t end up on the black market. Thus, the business must make corrections and purchase new product until supply matches demand.
New York state will likely release more information about marijuana tax reporting requirements during future advisory board meetings, so businesses working within the industry should check back often for updates.
Business License Tax Requirements
The state marijuana tax rate in New York will depend on a variety of factors that must be weighed by authorized state authorities prior to implementation.
The basic framework of the adult use cannabis program stipulates taxes totaling 9% of sales and 4% local sales tax, but these rates could be adjusted based on the actual market price of marijuana, the consumer’s ability to pay and other variables.
Concluding on New York’s Cannabis-Related Licenses
New York will be making many changes to its cannabis laws and regulations before they go into effect in the near future. Since this is NY State’s first time implementing a marijuana program for adult use, it’s crucial to stay on top of any regulations the state puts in place.
New York will allow businesses to apply for a license to sell marijuana products in the very near future. The state has been working diligently on creating all of the business licenses and regulations necessary to make this program functional.
Before applying for any cannabis licenses, however, business owners must understand all of the laws and procedures involved with becoming a licensed marijuana-related company. This includes if you need an adult use distributor, adult use processor, limited cultivation, retail dispensary, or microbusiness license.
Adult use cannabis sales are set to blow up as soon as the licenses and regulations are in place. Whether you plan to operate a marijuana dispensary, want a nursery license as an adult use cultivator or processor license, need a distributor license, a delivery license, or some other license, keep in mind that the state will only accept applications after all required paperwork is in place and approved.
Looking for help breaking into New York’s recreational sector? Wondering how you can scale your operation in NY?
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The Garden State is offering several financial assistance programs that could cover some of the costs of legal medicinal marijuana in New Jersey.
The state government wants to help patients who can’t afford to pay for their own medical marijuana. This is why it’s proposing a bill that would make it possible for people enrolled in four different financial assistance programs to only have to pay a small copay if they need medical marijuana.
If this legislation passes, health care providers will be required to ask if the patient needs any kind of assistance when filling out paperwork about which medical marijuana products they need.
Interested in expanding your business in New Jersey’s cannabis space? CONTACT US today to learn more about how we can help.
New Jersey Medical Marijuana Financial Assistance Programs
Four different financial assistance programs that help children, seniors, crime victims, and people with disabilities could receive aid with the cost of medical marijuana in New Jersey. This would occur under identical bills that the Senate and Assembly health committees have already approved.
Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, and Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, sponsored these bills in New Jersey. The vote for this medical marijuana cost coverage bill could happen within a week.
These are the New Jersey financial assistance programs that would offer the benefits:
Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund
The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund is a financial assistance program New Jersey families can use if they have potentially catastrophic medical expenses that result from a child’s condition or illness.
If a family’s related expenses are incurred before the child’s 22nd birthday, to qualify for this program, the costs must:
Exceed 10% of the family’s income that year, plus 15% of any income over $100,000; and
Are not covered by insurance, other State or Federal programs, or other sources such as fundraising.
Any illness can be “catastrophic” when considering uncovered medical expenses and family income over the last 12 months. For the condition or illness to fit the term “catastrophic,” it must be acute or chronic with expenses that aren’t covered by federal, state, insurance programs, or other sources.
Other sources can include – but are not limited to – other State or Federal agency programs, trusts, insurance contracts, proceeds from fundraising, and settlements regarding the child’s medical condition. However, if the child’s source of health coverage pays for ambulatory services from within their provider network, the uncovered out-of-network expenses might not be reimbursable through this program.
“The cost of cannabis can run into the hundreds of dollars per month for individuals,” Conaway explained. “This bill serves those who are financially distressed and … ensures the benefits of medical cannabis are available to all who may need it.”
Through the bill, the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund will also be allowed to cover the cost of New Jersey medical cannabis for qualified patients. This organization already covers many medical expenses resulting from a child’s illnesses or conditions, and this would enable it to offer assistance to children in need of medical marijuana in New Jersey.
Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD)
The Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program is a state-funded program that offers assistance to eligible seniors and disabled persons to afford their prescription drug costs. But at this point, it does not help cover the costs of medical cannabis.
For someone to be eligible for the PAAD program, they must meet these requirements:
You must be a New Jersey resident;
You need to be at least 65 years of age or older or between ages 18 and 64 and getting Social Security Title II Disability benefits; and
Your income for 2021 is less than $28,769 if single or less than $35,270 if you’re married.
Medicare-eligible PAAD beneficiaries also must enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. PAAD pays the monthly premium for some standard basic Part D plans (with a monthly premium) at or below the regional benchmark.
For those who are eligible, these Medicare plans cover medically necessary prescription medications under Medicare Part D. But, if a beneficiary enrolls themselves in an enhanced plan at or below the regional benchmark premium amount, PAAD pays the premium if the plan agrees to follow all of the billing requirements.
The federal Medicare Plan and/or PAAD also cover costs above the PAAD co-payment of $5 for every covered generic drug or $7 for all covered brand name drugs. This includes premiums.
However, if the person’s Medicare Part D plan refuses to pay for medication because the drug is not on its list of medicines, PAAD beneficiaries must switch to a drug on their Part D plan’s list. Otherwise, their doctor needs to ask for an exception because of medical necessity directly to their Part D plan.
Medicare Advantage participants need to add a prescription benefit to their coverage. With this in mind, PAAD offers up to the regional benchmark amount to cover the prescription part of the entire premium.
Thus, patients enrolled in PAAD would have to pay a $7 copay for their medical marijuana in New Jersey. The organization already aids seniors and residents with disabilities who cannot afford their prescription drugs. But with medical marijuana ready to utilize as an alternative treatment, many would like it included in the list of medicines supported by this program.
Senior Gold Prescription Discount
The Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program is also a state-funded prescription program. However, it has a different co-payment structure and income eligibility guidelines when compared to the PAAD. And at this point, it cannot cover medical cannabis.
For someone to be eligible for Senior Gold, they must meet these requirements:
You need to be a New Jersey resident;
You must be 65 years old or older, or between the ages of 18 and 64 and getting Social Security Disability benefits;
Your annual income for 2021 is greater than $28,769 and less than $38,769 if you’re single, or greater than $35,270 and less than $45,270 if you’re married.
Furthermore, every Medicare-eligible Senior Gold beneficiary must enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. They are then responsible for paying the monthly premium directly to the Medicare Part D plan.
Beneficiaries also are responsible for paying any late enrollment penalty Medicare imposes each month they were eligible to enroll in Medicare Part D but didn’t enroll.
Those who have enrolled in the Senior Gold program only would need to pay a copay of $15 plus 50% of the excess cost of medical marijuana.
However, if a Senior Gold member already spent $2,000 out-of-pocket, or $3,000 if they’re a married couple, the copy is only $15 for medical cannabis if Vitale and Conaway’s bill passes.
“Patients in New Jersey who gain relief from pain or discomfort through the use of medical cannabis cut across a wide swath of our population, and yet the cost of the drug can be exorbitantly expensive for many people who rely on it most,” Vitale explained in a statement.
Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO)
The State VCCO is a program that reimburses victims for crime-related expenses. This includes the cost of medical expenses, mental health counseling, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages or loss of support.
Since the VCCO is a federally financed program, it currently does not offer compensation for medical marijuana-related expenses victims may incur. Thus, the new bill stands to benefit victims, especially those who have experienced some sort of traumatic crime that they are using medical cannabis to treat crime-associated mental illnesses.
Decreasing Out-of-Pocket Expenses with a Medical Marijuana Card
The bill’s mission is to ensure everyone can afford medical marijuana in New Jersey. Since ounces of medical cannabis flower in New Jersey can reach $500 apiece, reimbursement for these expenses is essential for some.
Since the federal government still views medical marijuana as a Schedule I drug lacking medicinal value, federal programs and programs connected to federal funding cannot cover medical cannabis legally. This includes health and medical insurance.
“We’re waiting for insurance coverage for this particular therapeutic but, not having that, we’re moving forward,” Conaway explained. “They are state-run programs with state-run dollars only, so there’s no implication of any federal program or action.”
Medicinal Marijuana Businesses in New Jersey
Medical marijuana businesses in New Jersey stand to gain more customers if this bill passes. The medicinal marijuana patients who would otherwise be unable to afford their medicine will now have the ability to buy what they need.
As the cannabis industry in New Jersey becomes more accessible to those who cannot afford the exorbitant prices, other businesses may also benefit. Particularly, alternative treatment centers fueling the state’s medicinal marijuana program.
Alternative Treatment Centers in New Jersey
Alternative treatment centers in New Jersey allow medical marijuana patients access to medicinal marijuana. All they need is a medical cannabis card, which allows the New Jersey medical marijuana program to thrive.
However, the medical marijuana program in New Jersey isn’t supporting these other programs just yet.
The new bill aims to enable patients, including minor patients and their legal guardians, to get medicinal marijuana, even if they cannot cover the cost of purchasing their medicinal marijuana from alternative treatment centers at a total price.
Quick Tips to Get a Card in New Jersey
To get a card in New Jersey through the cannabis regulatory commission, patient registration is essential. This involves visiting an approved physician – or a licensed physician.
Jersey residents can visit an approved physician to get a card in New Jersey. But they will need medical records showing the qualifying patient needs access to medical marijuana.
While there are some hoops to jump through, it’s possible to get a medical card in New Jersey. However, the cannabis regulatory commission demands qualifying patients – or their primary caregiver or legal guardian – go through the same process to gain access to the medicinal marijuana program.
Depending on the caregiver’s government assistance eligibility, they might be allowed to obtain medical marijuana at a discounted rate, too. However, they must hold a medical card on behalf of the patient.
The New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association has been instrumental in pushing for this legislation, associating themselves with the most vulnerable patients while promoting a viable and sustainable industry that benefits society as a whole.
As we can see from Conaway and Vitale’s stance on the matter, progress is being made in the Garden State. With more movement in the right direction, we’re sure to see positive impacts on the cannabis sector as a whole.
Medical Marijuana Patients in New Jersey
Medical marijuana patients younger than 18 can still get a medical marijuana card. But to get support for medicinal marijuana through one of the new programs, the bills must pass.
The Medical Cannabis Act allowed New Jersey to create its medicinal marijuana program. And while this supports terminally ill patients looking to get a medical marijuana card and visit an alternative treatment center, the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program is still somewhat limited because of federal prohibition.
Those who have a medical marijuana card in New Jersey can purchase and smoke medicinal marijuana. But despite the Medical Cannabis Act, New Jersey patients can still have trouble accessing the plant through the state’s medicinal marijuana program.
If the patient is too young or disabled, a medical marijuana card can be obtained by up to two caregivers. But each of these caregivers will need to apply for a medical card. However, with recreational cannabis legalization, the plant will become more accessible without a New Jersey MMJ card.
Serving Medical Marijuana Patients in New Jersey
While some might worry about tax dollars going towards alleviating the financial stress that comes with a medical card, cannabis business operators can look at this as an opportunity. With the right marketing, it’s possible to earn supplemental security income from medical cardholders.
New patients will come to the spotlight if this bill passes. And while qualifying conditions in New Jersey limit new patients, more patients will likely get an MMJ card once these programs begin offsetting the cost.
Whether you offer home delivery to each patient or have a dispensary that is interested in supporting every MMJ card patient with excellent customer service, we can expect this bill to support each patient, whether young or a senior citizen, by offering reduced fees for medical use marijuana to those that need it most.
Interested in scaling your cannabis operation in New Jersey? There’s no time like the present!
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The New York Times has High Hopes for New York’s Cannabis Industry
The NYT reports that the recently approved bill is likely to create a $4.2 billion cannabis industry in the state.
While using marijuana recreationally in the busy state is now legal, sales will become legal once the state implements regulations.
New Yorkers can now have up to three ounces in hand for recreational use or 24 grams of concentrate. If you’re 21 or older, you can now use, smoke, ingest, consume cannabis.
Cannabis consumers are allowed to store up to five pounds of cannabis, as well. However, they’ll need to take “reasonable steps” to ensure it’s secure.
People can now legally smoke elevated plant matter in public where tobacco smoking is legal, setting a new precedent for consumption in New York.
We expect this will encourage dispensary success once rules are in place.
Medical Marijuana Program in NY
Medical cannabis use has been legal in New York for quite some time now.
While it wasn’t until recently that the state decided to legalize recreational cannabis, the state’s medical program has been in place since 2015.
The Department of Health started accepting applications for organizations interested in getting licensed to cultivate, dispense, and manufacture medical use cannabis and medical marijuana products.
Only five registered organizations would be granted licenses for each of the three categories, but the deadline is long passed (June 5th, 2015).
Allowing up to five organizations in this space means many entrepreneurs interested in opening a retail store will have to consider other business plans.
While Andrew Cuomo has signed legalization into effect, each of the license types will only allow so many licensee holders.
Whether for adult use or medical marijuana, dispensaries need to have the law on their side.
Ultimately, this will involve coming up with a business plan and, if the initial registration proves fruitful, adhering to the regulations put in place by the Office of Cannabis Management.
Due to the limit on the number of registered organizations operating dispensing facilities state-wide, we can expect each registered organization to operation with marijuana regulation in mind.
A cannabis business license is not easy to get. For anyone running a dispensary in New York, marijuana laws will be essential to follow in order to avoid prosecution from the Cannabis Control Board of New York state.
Back in 2015, 43 applicants applied for licenses to manufacture and dispense medical cannabis. The law only allowed these organizations to operate up to 4 dispensaries state-wide, though.
The state has not issued new medical licenses since then. However, New York has been working on state government proposals to initiate full legalization.
Since then, the state’s medical marijuana program began accepting applications for a license in one or more of these areas: Cultivation (up to four state-wide cultivation site licenses), Dispensing (four medical use dispensary licenses), and Manufacturing (three manufacturing facilities).
Is New York’s market significant?
New York’s market could be the next California. This sector is valued in the billions (New York Comptroller believes the state could earn a whopping $3.1 billion in revenue).
The New York cannabis market is the second-largest, and when considering the state’s population, wealth, and cultural acceptance, the opportunity here is massive.
Will localities have cannabis restrictions and laws in place?
Counties that will not allow marijuana sales exist. Some of these include Chemung, Nassau, Putnam, Suffolk, and Columbia. Oneida and Cattaraugus counties might not allow sales, too. However, these counties haven’t implemented laws at this time.
Who can buy through New York state’s medical marijuana program?
Patients suffering from certain severe medical conditions can receive certification from a licensed practitioner to access medical marijuana products. This is how one can obtain a registry identification card. Once issued, registrations remain valid for two years.
Here’s a list of the qualifying conditions you’ll serve as you dispense medical marijuana. Each qualifying condition in this list is another reason why it’s essential to legalize cannabis at the federal level:
HIV or AIDS
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Spinal cord nerve injury with intractable spasticity
Inflammatory bowel disease
Opioid alternative for pain that degrades health and functional capability
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Substance use disorder
Other associated or complicating conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use include:
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Severe or chronic pain
Severe or persistent muscle spasms
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Opioid use disorder
Medical cannabis can offer relief to patients, which is why legalization for medical use has been essential in states like New York.
The Compassionate Care Act initiated in 2014 ensures these patients have access to medical cannabis through the registered organization of their choice.
Despite cannabis prohibition at the federal level, a marijuana dispensary in New York has the potential to be successful while helping people.
Each accessible cannabis dispensary ensures patients can get the medicine they need when they need it, and New York’s program has made tremendous strides in the right direction.
What are the costs of starting a medical marijuana dispensary?
At the start of the application, two fees are due. One is a non-refundable $10,000 application fee; the other is a registration fee of $200,000.
Even if the applicant does not get approved for registration, they will receive the $200,000 fee back.
Do I need a marijuana business license to set up shop in NY?
Yes. While NY has legalized the plant for adult use, you will still need to apply and register with the state to get a marijuana business license in New York state.
Here’s some additional insight into the application fees and registration costs.
Applicants have to submit the following:
Non-Refundable Application Fee of $10,000
A $200,000 registration fee, which will be refunded if the applicant is not issued a registration.
How to Open a Dispensary for Recreational Marijuana in NY
New York was the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana. This happened on March 31, 2021, when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
In the United States, marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational use in a growing number of states. In all states where marijuana has been legalized, there are cannabis compliance regulations that need to be followed.
Dispensary owners and other license holders must maintain compliance through Metrc. This seed to sale management system can create safety in this space and manage each cannabis product and the growth phases all the way up until the products are sold from dispensaries.
A tracking system called Metrc was created to regulate cannabis production, distribution, and sales. This article aims to explain everything you need to know about Metrc, including how it works for dispensary owners and what it means for your operation.
Looking to implement Metrc and scale with compliance in mind? We help our clients grow their businesses without risking costly infractions! CONTACT US TODAY to learn what we can do for your operation.
Metrc: Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting for the Legal Cannabis Industry
Metrc is the main reporting tool that tracks cannabis production and products from seed to sale. While it doesn’t serve all business needs, it minimizes human error and acts as enforcement tracking reporting compliance software.
From commercial growers to retail operations, this software ensures compliance data reporting for every cannabis product. However, each state has its own unique regulations and reporting requirements to ensure compliance.
Metrc works by collecting data on cannabis material using unique identifier numbers (UIDs) on all legal plants and cannabis products made from the plant. This is for validation purposes, but it also can save time for reporting and help some dispensaries avoid hefty fines.
Each time a specific plant product changes hands, the transfer gets recorded. This provides traceability to the cannabis industry that makes it easy to track where products are coming from and where they reach consumers.
‘Track and Trace’ involves the state keeping a record of all cannabis plants from start to harvest. The reason behind this is that during instances in which someone gets sick from a product, a recall is essential. This system ensures that all legal cannabis products are easily identifiable and traceable to conduct any necessary recall.
How to Get Started Using Metrc
Metrc doesn’t offer comprehensive resource management for cannabis companies. Each cannabis operation must determine a solution to appropriately integrate Metrc.
The easiest way is to begin using Metrc manually. However, this comes with a set of risks and takes time. This process takes hours upon hours of data entry, auditing, and reconciliation processes to handle the inevitable errors.
Without a sophisticated inventory management solution in place, dispensary operators are especially at risk. Integrating Metrc to account for day-to-day operations means compliance in one respect. But you’ll need to implement inventory tracking, as well.
For the most effective solution, automation is essential. These processes should be automated – and ideally, handled by a professional. Metrc supports various third-party integrations that can be used in conjunction with Excel or Google Sheets.
Comprehensive point-of-sale solutions are available and can aid with compliance of state regulations. They can also save time for inputting individual transactions in Metrc. This solution allows you to scan the products as they’re sold and report all cannabis sales to state authorities with ease.
While some might think Metrc stands for something else in their state, it’s the same everywhere. Metrc stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance. The creators of Metrc focused on creating safety and transparency for cannabis consumers. While this ensures cannabis companies are taking every measure possible to avoid costly infractions, compliance is challenging.
What does Metrc track?
Besides tracking each plant, Metrc tracks the activities, grow phases, and plant movements. This includes each move, whether to another room, an extraction lab, dispensary, or into waste.
All cannabis plants logged into the Metrc system have tracking using data tags including:
Plant identification number with a scannable barcode
Application identifier showing if it’s medical or recreational
Tag order date
What is a UID?
If you’re new to Metrc, you’re likely wondering about the UID. UID stands for Unique Identifier and is made up of an ID number, a facility identifier, and a product type. This system was implemented in the METRC Marijuana Enforcement Tracking System to help with compliance.
The UID helps accurately identify plants from one another across all phases as well as track movement on-site for each plant or batch of marijuana products. Metrc has two types of tagged inventory called ‘Plants’ and ‘Packages.’
Cannabis plant tags
Plant tags allow Metrc to identify individual and batches of plants in relation to how far along they are in their growth cycles. These tags help Metrc keep track of the plants’ maturing stages and even what type of plant they are.
Package tags group items that have been prepped for transfer or sale to other licensees. One or more packages are considered a batch. This is the tag that will be scanned at the point of sale to verify if it was purchased legally and for tax purposes. Every package needs its own UID, or package tag.
How do I get Metrc certified?
Most states that use Metrc demand cannabis business operators get a Metrc certification. Each state has its own set of rules as implementing Metrc is unique to those regulations.
Depending on the state you reside, there might be some prerequisites to get a Metrc certification. If you’re struggling getting compliant with Metrc, feel free to contact our team at Northstar for assistance adhering to your state’s traceability system regulations.
What is Metrc compliance?
Metrc compliance varies from state to state. But this web-based, state-mandated software platform ensures seed-to-sale tracking throughout the cannabis supply chain. It tracks everything, from production to manufacturing, testing, distribution, and sales of all cannabis products.
How much does Metrc cost?
Metrc LLC is charges its users $40 per month per license. This gives you access to the software. With this monthly payment, cannabusiness operators receive ongoing training, comprehensive user support, and system maintenance. Even though this is common throughout most legal states, some states like Montana and Nevada cover some of the costs for the cannabis industry.
RFID tags are also sold by Metrc. These allow the software to identify and track transactions throughout each states system. Plant tags are $0.45 a piece and package tags are $0.25 a piece. In some states, purchasing and distributing package tags is handled by the state. For instance, in California, licensees don’t need to buy these tags directly. Metrc also support barcode reading technology. However, it’s designed to integrate with RFID technology as this makes the system more secure and robust.
RFID tags cannot be reused. Metrc’s software uses RFIDs as unique identifies, which means they cannot be used in the supply chain twice. Streamlining compliance processes means dispensary operators must continue buying new RFID tags.
Is Metrc required?
Metrc is a required web-hosted system for the cannabis industry in some states. It’s used online and only needs an internet connection and a web browser to operate, which makes implementation as simple as possible. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to stay compliant with Metrc.
Metrc does not do everything for cannabis business operators looking to bypass costly infractions. Here’s what Metrc isn’t doing:
Capturing or Centralizing Business Data. Even though Metrc stores crucial data for retail business intelligence and compliance, it doesn’t offer visibility into this data. Instead, cannabis retail operations must invest in an integratable third-party solution to acquire this additional functionality.
Tracking Cash Flow, Custom Data, and Vendor Relationships. Metrc doesn’t provide a summary of revenue, cash spent, tax liability, or customer preferences. The software doesn’t support non-cannabis inventory because regulators in this space don’t care about non-cannabis products.
Validating Incoming Data to Protect Cannabis Retail Operators. Metrc lets users report false data. However, the only notifications the software offers are from regulators announcing an audit or inspection.
Producing Comprehensive Reports for Metrc Users. Regulators can generate comprehensive reports through Metrc. However, users cannot. As a Metrc user, you will not be able to produce historical inventory valuations, which is something regulators demand if they’re auditing your cannabusiness.
Looking for assistance scaling your cannabis operation with Metrc? We’ll organize your financials and maintain compliance every step of the way!
As California’s governor, Gavin Newsom has made it his mission to make the state a “world leader on cannabis.” And now he’s taken an important step in that direction by announcing what he calls the “California Comeback Plan.”
What does the California Comeback Plan mean for cannabusinesses? And what about everyone else? In this article, we’re covering the plan, how your cannabis operation will benefit, and who else it covers.
Need help navigating Cali’s cannabis sector? GET EXPERT ASSISTANCE to structure and scale your cannacompany now.
Newsom’s Comeback Plan & What to Expect Operating in Cannabis
The California Comeback Plan includes $100 million in grants and other funding for local governments to tackle their own regulatory challenges. But one of the most pressing issues is how to ease the bureaucratic logjam that has thousands of cannabis companies worried over provisional business licenses expiring.
Governor Newsom will also introduce a trailer bill to provide marijuana cultivators, retailers, and other operations in the space some peace of mind. This bill will let regulators issue provisional cannabis business permits for an additional six months.
These moves focus on the issues surrounding provisional licenses.
Problems with Provisional Cannabis Licenses in California
At this point, we’ve waited years for this progress. Between red tape, complex environmental regulations, and local industry ordinances, the provisional license update has been put off for far too long.
With more than 80 percent of Cali’s cannabis business licenses expiring in 2022, there’s a lot of concern over the provisional licenses. Without the right action, the provisional licensing issue could result in these operations temporarily closing their doors.
Without the legal power to extend provisional licenses after December 31, cannabis business operators are concerned. However, the $100 million grant will help local officials process the backlog of provisional licenses, ensuring these operations get approval to secure mandatory annual permits.
The Newsom administration says that the money will go to “jurisdictions with high numbers of provisional licenses across the supply chain,” ensuring the most significant impact possible for the cannabis sector.
In March, there were 9,950 active cannabis licenses. But around 83 percent of them were operating with provisional licenses. The delays in transferring provisionally licensed companies to annual permits have primarily been the result of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The California Quality Act (CEQA) Causing Trouble for Cannabusiness Operators
The CEQA has made this process time-intensive for city and county authorities. Processing applications and checking that they meet all of the requirements is overly tedious, which makes it a slow process.
“This grant funding aims to serve local governments and a significant portion of the provisional license population, including a number of small businesses and equity operators,” Nicole Elliott, the governor’s senior adviser on cannabis, explained in a statement.
“We are committed to maintaining stability across the cannabis supply chain, supporting our local partners, and transitioning provisional licenses into annual licensure more swiftly, without sacrificing California’s environmental commitments.”
Here’s how the funds will be divided among local governments:
$250,000 will go to the top eight jurisdictions that have the most provisionally licensed cultivation permits.
$250,000 will go to the top eight jurisdictions that have the most provisionally licensed manufacturers, testing labs, microbusinesses, retailers, and testing labs.
$500,000 of these funds will go to the top eight jurisdictions that have the most provisionally licensed businesses that have been given state grant money to support social equity programs.
This plan is being implemented with the consolidation of Cali’s three marijuana regulatory agencies into one new oversight bureaucracy called the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). This agency will launch on July 1 and will be responsible for overseeing how this money is dispersed and used.
Provisional Licensing Conditions to Consider
Local governments will need to use the $100 million in grant money to process marijuana business licenses, offer technical support to license applicants, put environmental mitigation measures in place – mainly, towards water conservation – or “other uses that further the intent of the program as determined by the DCC,” a Newsome administration official told MJBizDaily in a recent email.
“This distribution method will result in over 60% of provisional licensees and the cities and counties that permit them being served by these grant dollars,” the email further explained.
Provisional Cannabis Licensing Conditions
Here are the conditions for Cali marijuana regulators providing provisional licensing extensions as outlined under the terms of the trailer bill:
Guarantee compliance with certain environmental rules
Specify the progress companies need to make to get an annual permit to maintain an active provisional license
Remove the provisional expiration date for applicants “making measurable progress toward achieving annual licensure.”
Cities & Counties Most Likely to Receive Grant Capital
The recent budget analysis shared with the CCIA by the Newsom administration claims these are the cities and counties most likely to receive grant monies:
Desert Hot Springs
The analysis also highlights how the budget proposal calls to hire a state deputy director of equity and inclusion as part of the DCC staff. This job will be “tasked with assessing and developing best practices and work programs that achieve social equity.”
Newsom’s Comeback Plan Beyond Cannabis
Governor Newsom presents a $100 billion California Comeback Plan that aims to take Cali’s most persistent challenges head-on. Through this plan, immediate relief will be provided to two-thirds of Californians with Golden State Stimulus checks, which will support small business operations throughout the state.
The California Comeback Plan also proposes major new initiatives and investments to allocate efforts towards. Homelessness and housing affordability, disparities in education, aging infrastructure, and wildfires and climate change are all part of this proposal.
This $100 billion California Comeback plan is the largest economic recovery package in the state’s history. The plan offers comprehensive strategies and outlines significant investments in some of California’s most impacted areas to ensure the state recovers without hesitation from the pandemic’s economic damage.
Here is how this plan will tackle some of Cali’s most significant challenges:
Giving immediate relief to the people who’ve felt the most impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking action regarding the state’s homelessness and housing affordability crisis.
Improving public schools to ensure they promote opportunity.
Building infrastructure to support growth within the state.
Confronting wildfires and climate change.
“Every Californian has been impacted by this pandemic, and the sacrifices we’ve all made this past year have resulted in a historic surplus – I’m here to announce that we’re investing it in you,” explained Governor Newsom. “California’s economic recovery will leave nobody behind, that’s why we’re implementing the nation’s largest state tax rebate and small business relief programs in history, on top of unprecedented investments we’re making to address California’s most persistent challenges. This is a jumpstart for our local economies, and it’s how we’ll bring California roaring back.”
Looking for assistance navigating Cali’s cannabis industry? Our team is here to help!
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New York’s new law legalizing cannabis for recreational use has been one of the most progressive in America.
The amended Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) will encourage people who have been negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition to participate in the adult-use market. The law also expands the state’s existing medical cannabis program, allows home grows, and establishes an Office of Cannabis Management that will create and implement regulations for the adult-use program.
But this is something we’ve seen time and time again in New York.
In 2013, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes (D) and Senator Liz Krueger (D) began submitting the MRTA to the New York Legislature to make sure people from communities who have been disproportionately impacted by drug laws can participate in this new industry with hopes that it would help those communities economically flourish if given an opportunity to enter into legal cannabis trade.
It’s a plan that will benefit New Yorkers and ensure cannabis is accessible for medicinal purposes, as well as recreational use — at a level we haven’t seen across America yet.
But how will this impact social equity applicants? And how will the community reinvestment fund work? What about expungement for past cannabis-related criminal convictions?
This article offers insight into New York marijuana legalization and what the industry and its supporters can expect.
Interested in expanding your business to serve New York’s legal cannabis sector? CONTACT US today for expert assistance.
MRTA & Social Equity Applicants in New York
“For generations, too many New Yorkers have been unfairly penalized for the use and sale of adult-use cannabis, arbitrarily arrested and jailed with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. After years of tireless advocacy and extraordinarily hard work, that time is coming to an end in New York State,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis isn’t just about creating a new market that will provide jobs and benefit the economy, it’s also about justice for long-marginalized communities and ensuring those who’ve been unfairly penalized in the past will now get a chance to benefit. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.”
New York’s new law defines social equity applicants as people from “communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition.” But it also stands to serve minority- and women-owned companies, financially distressed farmers, and disabled veterans.
But what considerations come into play to qualify as disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition?
The new rules should outline precisely what characteristics one must possess to qualify as a social equity applicant in New York.
The goal here is to create social equity definitions and programs that are most likely to benefit the most impacted communities. But data will be essential to ensure this happens.
Amber Littlejohn, the executive director of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, has voiced some concerns.
The main issue here is that the state hasn’t invested enough money in research to learn which communities have taken the most damage from marijuana prohibition.
Littlejohn and others in the cannabis space are concerned about New York’s social equity program. These concerns include:
How will social equity applicants have the capital to break into the market during its early stages if the programs rely on tax revenues generated by recreational cannabis sales?
How will social equity applicants compete with existing MSOs? The economies of scale resulting from vertical operations and financial depth make this challenging, if not impossible.
How will New York define microbusinesses? Sensible canopy regulations will be essential to allow social equity applicants to stay competitive in this space.
Key Provisions of New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act
Here’s how New York’s MRTA aims to help social equity applicants:
50% of all adult-use licenses will be awarded to social and economic equity applicants. Experts believe that microbusiness and delivery licenses will be prioritized.
Out of the tax revenue adult-use sales generate, 40% will go to improve communities disadvantaged by the war on drugs.
A one-time “special licensing fee” will be required from existing medical marijuana operators to convert three of their MMJ dispensaries into dual medical-recreational stores. This fee, while not outlined in this law, will aid fund social equity programs.
Social equity applicants will receive financial support in the form of low- or no-interest loans, assistance preparing applications and operating a business, and fee reductions or waivers.
Microbusinesses will now be able to form vertical operations, which will aid these applicants in achieving economies of scale. Other operations, besides the existing MMJ operators, will not be allowed vertical integration capabilities.
Social equity licensees will not be allowed to sell or transfer their licenses within the first three years once they’re issued.
Social equity programs in other states, like Illinois and California, haven’t accomplished enough. New York aims to ensure its lawmakers understand what works and the circumstances needed for this program to succeed.
One hope is that New York finds financial solutions to support minority businesses. Simply partnering with social equity applicants isn’t enough with overarching barriers still in place, and this is something we hope will get resolved.
New York Community Reinvestment Fund
New York’s MRTA is expected to encourage economic recovery by generating around $3.5 billion per year in revenue, which will also aid in mitigating the social and economic wrongs of marijuana prohibition. The new laws will make New York a leader in the US cannabis space and have the potential to allow the state to generate more revenue than any other adult-use legalized state.
Through the Cannabis Fund, revenue from recreational cannabis will be used to pay operating expenses for the Office of Cannabis Management and provide public safety training for law enforcement agencies. But the remaining funds go towards social equity enhancement.
The leftover funds will allocate 40% to a Community Reinvestment Fund that will give back to communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. Another 40% will go to Public Education. The other 20% will be allocated towards drug treatment. The main focus here is that New York stands to positively impact the communities in ways that no other state has been able to do so far.
Expungement for Cannabis-Related Criminal Convictions
The ACLU reports that 8.2 million arrests were made for marijuana-related charges from 2001 to 2010. Incredibly, 88 percent of these arrests for possession as opposed to selling or trafficking the controlled substance. Furthermore, despite cannabis use between Caucasians and African-Americans maintaining similar rates in the US, African-Americans are four times as likely to get arrested for possession.
With this in mind, the last social justice component of New York’s MRTA is prioritizing the expungement of previous marijuana-related criminal offenses. This will involve the Office of Cannabis Management automatically expunging criminal records over the next two years.
Through this feature, employment and personal economic growth will be facilitated in New York’s cannabis industry. People who have been convicted of possession of up to three ounces will also be eligible for record expungement.
As the 15th state to legalize adult-use cannabis and the fourth to pass a statute by the Legislature, New York is making tremendous strides for the cannabis sector. This MRTA will elevate the standard for states that legalize cannabis for adult use by prioritizing social and economic incentives.
Between New York’s social equity program, community reinvestment fund, and expungement efforts, we can expect the entire sector – consumers included – to feel a positive change.
If you’re looking to grow your cannabis operation, there’s no time like right now. CONTACT US TODAY to learn how we’ll scale your business with the right financial services.