New York Waives Cannabis Cultivator Licensing Fees

New York State Capitol updating rules for cannabis cultivator licensing
Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

ALBANY, NY – The East Coast state that easily should dominate the region’s legal cannabis market has suffered through enormous regulatory roadblocks and a lackluster adult-use rollout, but recent actions taken by regulators are beginning to bear fruit.

Last week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul initiated a comprehensive review of the state’s cannabis program to address a disappointing rollout of only 87 adult-use dispensaries—far short of the 400 Hochul expected by now to support a healthy industry from top to bottom. 


Days after Hochul’s announcement, the state’s Cannabis Control Board voted to waive licensing fees over the next two years for conditional adult-use cultivators. The board also approved 114 new licenses, including 45 for dispensaries and 31 for microbusinesses. Microbusiness license holders in New York may grow, process, distribute, and sell under the same license.

“Farmers are the backbone of our state, and we’re making sure the family farms across New York that are building our cannabis industry have a real chance to succeed,” said Hochul. “I have made it clear that New York state needs to issue more dispensary licenses and kickstart cannabis sales in New York, and this two-year promise to adult-use conditional cultivators will make sure these farmers can reap the benefits of this growing industry.”

According to the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), the two-year fee waiver applies to adult-use conditional cultivators applying to transition to full licensure for either a cultivator or microbusiness license. These licenses can cost up to $40,000 each, depending on the license tier and canopy size. 

In its decision, the OCM acknowledged the “unusual and unique circumstances faced by the New York state cannabis market, which has resulted in severe financial distress for adult-use conditional cultivators, including the difficulty of selling cannabis crops grown in 2022.” 

Additional changes to the state’s program are expected once the governor’s review process, led by Commissioner for the Office of General Services Jeanette Moy, comes to a close. Moy has been tasked with embedding in the OCM for a minimum of 30 days to assess the agency’s organization and make recommendations to change the application-to-opening timeframes for new cannabis retailers and businesses.

“New York state’s cannabis market is moving in the right direction, and by waiving licensing fees for two years, we’re making sure conditional cultivators have a chance to reap the rewards of this growing industry,” said Chris Alexander, executive director at the New York Office of Cannabis Management. “As we mark three years of legalized adult-use cannabis in New York state, we look forward to this next chapter of our cannabis story.”

While New York’s adult-use rollout has been less than successful, regulators have picked up the pace by granting 223 licenses during the first three months of the year. The latest tranche was awarded to businesses with a specific location under their control that had applied before the November 17, 2023, deadline.