Thus far, the steps toward certified licensure for New York cannabis cultivators have been restrictive and slow. After an initial application process open to hemp growers alone, no new plans have been laid out to broaden or otherwise open up the applicant pool. Still, there are steps the eligible can take to remain ahead of the curve when, eventually, the application portal does re-open. As we’ll go on to outline in step 4, there’s even a potential backdoor for the many who fail to meet the state’s fairly restrictive application criteria. In this post we’ll outline a 4-step plan for determining your eligibility, staying on top of the application window, and preparing your materials well in advance.
Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility
On February 22, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into effect New York State’s cannabis cultivator’s licensing law as it stands, authorizing existing, eligible hemp growers to apply for a cultivator’s license. This remains the only pathway to a license so far. Let’s look at the details as written. According to ny.gov, an eligible applicant for a cultivator’s license will, “Have been authorized to grow hemp under the Department of Agriculture and Markets Industrial Hemp Research Pilot program and meet certain other requirements.” Those other requirements we’ll go on to discuss, but for the time being they’re secondary to the non-negotiable credential named above–in other words, without prior authorization to grow hemp, there’s been no pathway to a New York state grower’s license. Of note, too, is that the last open application window for a cultivation license closed June 30, 2022, so even those with the right credentials who missed the boat initially have had to be patient.
Step 2: Watch the Clock
On the basis of the roll-out thus far, there’s no guarantee of an open, rolling period of applications; rather, the window for New York grow license applications opens for a limited time, only to close and remain closed indefinitely. Last time around, the Cannabis Control Board met on March 10, 2022, in order to make a determination about the application window. Officially the window for applications opened on March 15, 2022, remained open until June 30, 2022, at which point it closed and has remained closed since. Thus it bears emphasizing: Applying for a cannabis cultivator’s license in New York is a time-sensitive process, open only for a limited period of time. To capitalize, be ready with your application materials, and, above all, be informed about the timing of the next available window. Missing your window means a long waiting game, so be in the know about timing and ready with your materials, which are substantial.
Step 3: Having Your Paperwork in Order
The paperwork requirements for a New York cultivation license are not insignificant, and neither are the fees. You’ll want to anticipate the re-opening of the application window by completing them well in advance. A list of the requirements is available on the state’s website, ny.gov. Many of them are to be expected, others less so. For example, you’ll be asked to produce a blueprint of your business plan, adequately outlining things like capital and personnel. You’ll need documentation of your authorization to grow hemp from the Department of Agriculture, as mentioned, along with proof you’ve harvested hemp for two of the last four years. For each proposed growing location, you’ll need a cultivation and site plan. Last but not least, all applications come with a $2,000 non-refundable fee.
A last tip: hold on to your application materials. A cannabis cultivator’s license expires two years to the date from the granting of a license. Anyone who is able to get one will need to apply again, and all the quicker by recycling materials from the last application cycle.
Step 4: Considering the Alternatives
If you don’t meet the above criteria, don’t be dampened. Many will not and cannot based on the state’s restrictive application requirements. In the case, say, that you have a new preroll or edible brand you’d like to see made available in the growing New York adult-use market, there are still opportunities beyond the strict and narrow path of licensure. What you might do is reach out to an existing license holder, such as our customer, High End Processing, who can facilitate your manufacturing needs and bring your brand to life. Flourish has vetted industry experience and can help you navigate New York’s shifting legal landscape as it prepares for change in the coming months. For more on Flourish, our state of the art software, and how we can help support your business goals amid New York’s evolving cannabis landscape, read on here.