Wednesday, May 11, 2022

State Senator Gustavo Rivera -Questions Answered: Cannabis Business 101


Dear Neighbor,

Thank you to everyone who joined us at my virtual webinar, Cannabis Business 101. I would also like to give an enormous thanks to my amazing panel of experts: Cannabis Attorney Cristina Buccola, Clarence Stanley of the Small Business Development Center at Lehman College, and Cannabis Business Operator and Regulator, Nina Parks. 

I’m grateful to the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) for their presentation on how they’re creating regulations for this market and providing public health education. The opportunity that this new market will create is immense. In particular, I am looking forward to the opportunities that will become available to Bronxites who were impacted by aggressive law enforcement around marijuana given the social equity and restorative justice components of the law. 

During the webinar, we discussed eligibility for conditional license opportunities, how to prepare your business to seek a license, and what to expect as a new entrepreneur or business owner in New York’s burgeoning cannabis market. 

If you were unable to join us or want to hear from our amazing panelists again, you can watch the virtual webinar on YouTube or Facebook. My team and I have answered some of the questions we couldn’t get to during our event below. Learn more about the cannabis sector in New York by visiting or reach out to my office if you have further questions.

In Solidarity, 

Gustavo Rivera
State Senator 
33rd District, The Bronx
Watch the Cannabis Business 101 Webinar on YouTube
Cannabis Business 101
Questions and Answers
What is Social and Economic Equity and who qualifies to receive priority?
Social and Economic Equity (SEE) eligibility includes distressed farmers, service-disabled veterans, MWBE certified businesses, and justice-involved individuals as well as communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.  

Who is eligible for the proposed Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary licenses? 
Proposed regulations for conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses dictate that applicants must provide proof of three years of business ownership and two years of net profit. 

There is also a requirement of 'justice involvement', which is defined as the applicant having been convicted of a marijuana-related charge in this state or being the immediate family member of someone who was. This is one of the social and economic equity priorities in the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) law providing for restorative justice. This eligibility is defined as follows:

Was convicted of a marijuana related offense in New York State prior to March 31, 2021

Had a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, or dependent who was convicted of a marijuana related offense in New York State prior to March 31, 2021

Was a dependent of a person of an individual who was convince of a marijuana related offense in NYS prior to March 31, 2021

Evidence of the primary residence of the justice involved individual at the time of an individual’s arrest or conviction

We'll see what's required of general license applicants when those regulations are proposed, but by law they will include priority for SEE applicants. For now, you can read the proposed regulations and find out how to submit your comments and questions here

To be clear, there will be conditional regulations to go with the conditional licenses? 
Yes, there are draft conditional regulations that are going through the public comment period right now. When those regulations are finalized, that will allow the state to start the application process for conditional licenses.

When will licenses be issued to service-disabled veterans?
OCM has not released their proposed regulations that pertain to license opportunities for service-disabled veterans, who were designated to be part of the Social and Economic Equity priority in the MRTA Law. Follow OCM or sign up for updates to find out when these regulations are released.

I have a few acres of land and I would like to become a grower. Would I be able to get into this? 
Right now, cultivators seeking a license to grow adult-use cannabis for sale must be current cannabinoid hemp cultivators, as part of the Adult-Use Conditional Cultivator License program. The Cannabis Control Board approved those licensees at their April 14 meeting. The OCM has a handy Frequently Asked Questions document here. Opportunities for farmers will open up at for more cultivators to apply for licenses.

What are "legacy market entrepreneurs"?
Legacy market refers to current marijuana sellers. Legacy market entrepreneurs may be interested in entering the legal market. 

What considerations are there for first-time entrepreneurs interested in getting their start by way of the NYS cannabis industry? Any breaks for them?
MRTA includes language for the state to create low interest loans, grants, and incubator programs to support entrepreneurs. As more regulations are released and we learn more about non-conditional licenses, I’d like to see the support for new entrepreneurs as well so we can support social equity licensees and invest in their success. 

I heard that the state fund won't be ready for 2 years, if so, does that mean that the conventional license will be up and running before conditional license?
The Social Equity fund we passed in this year’s budget is specifically for conditional license-holders in retail dispensaries. I understand that the fund will be available in less than two years so that the conditional license holders can access it, but I’m looking forward to a lot more types of support and capital funding from the state as more license opportunities roll out. 

How can we ensure that already-established companies don't take control of the delivery, retail, and other licensing businesses?
The law that governs cannabis has language that says social equity applicants will have a priority. New York is unique in its legal structure to reduce vertical integration by establishing ownership standards and limiting folks to holding only one license. This is a challenge that we need to work with OCM and cannabis entrepreneurs to prevent. 
Public Health Outreach:
Cannabis Conversations 
Cannabis (also known as marijuana, pot, weed and more) is now legal in New York State for adults 21 and older, though legal adult-use sales are yet to start. Whether you choose to use or not, you might not know as much as you thought.

New York State has launched Cannabis Conversations to help New Yorkers understand the facts on the Cannabis Law, important information on health and safety, and the opportunities the new industry will create. So let’s start talking to increase your knowledge on cannabis and help you make educated decisions. 

Learn more at

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