New York Announces Waiver of Cannabis Cultivator Fees Until 2026

The New York State Cannabis Control Board (CCB) has recently made a pivotal decision to waive licensing fees for cannabis cultivators for the next two years, extending until 2026. Governor Kathy Hochul hailed this move as a significant step to support struggling cultivators, emphasizing the importance of fostering success for family farms in building the state’s burgeoning cannabis industry. Hochul reaffirmed her commitment to expanding cannabis sales in New York, stressing the need for issuing more dispensary licenses.

Simultaneously, the CCB granted 114 new cannabis business licenses, comprising 45 for retail dispensaries and 31 for microbusinesses, enabling grantees to engage in cultivation, processing, and sales. Currently, New York boasts 89 licensed dispensaries in operation, with hundreds more licenses granted, including 223 approvals in 2024. Additionally, the CCB greenlit 38 non-conditional adult-use licenses.

The fee waiver applies to cultivators transitioning to non-conditional licenses, including cultivation or microbusiness licenses, effectively exempting them from fees until 2026. These conditional license fees typically range from $4,500 to $40,000, based on license tier and canopy size.

Chris Alexander, Executive Director of the New York Office of Cannabis Management, expressed optimism about the state’s cannabis market trajectory, emphasizing the benefits of waiving licensing fees for cultivators. He underscored the importance of empowering conditional cultivators to thrive in this burgeoning industry.

The recent license approvals were granted to applicants who submitted their applications before November 17, 2023, and already secured physical business locations. Applications received after November 17 but before December 18 will undergo approval on a rolling basis in the coming months. Additionally, the CCB renewed permits for 17 testing labs, ensuring continued compliance and quality assurance in the cannabis market.

Despite these positive strides, New York still contends with an estimated 2,000 illegal cannabis operators, outnumbering legal businesses by approximately 24 to 1. Governor Hochul acknowledged the challenges stemming from the initial framework of New York’s adult-use cannabis program, noting the struggles faced by legal cannabis businesses and the flourishing illicit market.

In response to these challenges, the New York Senate proposed a budget allocation of $128 million to support cannabis businesses, including relief funds for farmers and grants to mitigate losses incurred due to the slow industry ramp-up. The Senate’s deliberations underscore the need for comprehensive support to bolster the state’s legal cannabis industry.

Sen. Michelle Hinchey, whose previous bill aimed at aiding cannabis farmers was vetoed, reiterated the importance of providing assistance to growers affected by delays in the industry rollout. The proposed funding seeks to sustain businesses until the next growing cycle, acknowledging the pivotal role of growers in meeting market demands and ensuring industry sustainability.


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