After years of stalled attempts, Governor Cuomo of New York signed the bill to legalize adult-use marijuana in April 1, 2021. Existing operators will be able to pay a one-time fee to co-locate 3 adult-use dispensaries at their prior locations and stay vertically integrated. New operators will be prohibited from vertical integration, and licensees will not be allowed more then 3 dispensaries. Although a framework for other licensees does not exist yet, delivery and on-site consumption lounges will be just some of the licenses up for grabs. Moreover, 50% of new adult-use licenses are planned to be awarded to social equity applicants.
In May of 2022, New York regulators approved a second batch of applications for recreational marijuana cultivators as the state prepares for the launch of retail sales "later this year". What we know for sure is that the newly licensed operators will be prohibited from vertical integration - giving a true leg-up to the existing operators in the state.
Now that the state has fully legalized the plant and future participants are already applying for licenses, the Workforce Development Institute and Cornell University have teamed up to form the Cannabis Workforce Initiative. Members of this joint effort seek to connect people interested in joining the industry, whilst providing educational and training resources.
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With nearly 20MM residents and one of the highest GDP per capita in the US, New York is poised to ultimately generate over $4B in annual cannabis sales. With nine of the 10 licenses being owned by the largest MSOs, New York is the land of bigs. Operators who took the cash burn to build infrastructure will be rewarded with a foothold in the market. Much like Illinois, whoever can build out cultivation will have a multi-year window of insatiable demand at industry-high prices. The market is primed, but out of state investors will likely need to wait eighteen months for the new licensing structure to be put in place.
With the recent legalization, New York is poised to be one of the biggest cannabis markets in the United States. Unfortunately, the current lack of licensing makes it difficult to discern who will be able to take home the biggest bite of the apple. What we do know is that the 10 current licensees have a leg up on the industry with the opportunity to be the only vertically integrated operators in the state.
Current operators should begin ramping up production as adult-use sales could begin as early as late 2022/ Spring of 2023.
New licensees looking to get in on the racket will be forced to play catch-up with some of the biggest names in cannabis. No need to fret however, as the current operators will not be able to handle the new market alone. Opportunity abounds in the Empire state.
*Each vertically integrated license can open four dispensaries for a total of 40 dispensaries across the state.