New Yorkers wondering what the state’s first adult use cannabis shops might look like now have some answers.
Late Friday, the Office of Cannabis Management posted “guidance for adult-use retail dispensaries.” The first cannabis shops in the state, which regulators maintain will begin to open by the end of 2022, will be run by “justice-involved” New Yorkers, or people with some business experience and a cannabis conviction (or one in their immediate family). Only up to 150 of these licenses, considered “conditional,” will be issued. An additional batch of up to 25 conditional retail licenses will go to qualifying non-profits. The state has already awarded “conditional” licenses to grow and process cannabis to the state’s existing hemp farmers. The licensing process that is not “conditional,” meaning, open to everyone else, is likely to begin in 2023, after the state releases formal rules for the industry.
The document released on Friday spells this out: “This guidance document serves to provide the framework that will assist Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary licensees plan for how to operate their dispensary before regulations are formally adopted.”
A couple of details have emerged about these shops in recent months. For example, regulators provided a tally of how many of these shops will be located in various jurisdictions: Manhattan will initially have 22 cannabis shops while the Capital Region will have seven, as Cannabis Wire reported. And, the people chosen for one of these conditional retail licenses will be provided with turnkey shops, funded by the state’s $200 million Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, as Cannabis Wire reported. (The non-profits will not be part of the Fund.)
But one outstanding question, for example, has been whether the licensees will be able to pick where they are located. The new guidance doesn’t exactly provide an answer, but it does note: “Certain retail dispensary licensees may be permitted to select the location of the licensed premises or relocate the location of the licensed premises.”
Here are some other noteworthy high-level points:
• Hours of operation: Dispensaries can operate between 8 a.m. and midnight “unless given express written permission by such municipality, or the municipality passes a local ordinance, authorizing it to operate beyond such hours,” so it appears that some could be 24-hours.
• Drive thru: Retail license holders must have a “brick-and-mortar” storefront, but licensees “may operate a drive-thru service window and/or drive-thru pre-order customer pick-up lane.”
• Delivery: A license holder with a brick-and-mortar retail shop “may provide delivery services if the training manual includes written procedures for how workers will provide delivery service.”
• What will stores look like? The first license holders likely won’t have too much of a say in the design, considering they will be given turnkey stores as part of the $200 million Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund. Still, the guidance says that they can’t have more than two signs “outside of the store” and signage “cannot be illuminated by neon lights.”
The signage will be pretty plain, too. Outside signs can only “at a maximum” show text related to the license holder’s business name, location, contact information, and “business type,” meaning it can say ““adult-use cannabis dispensary” but “cannot be the licensee’s selling message or motto.”
There can be indoor signs. Consider the indoor mall. If a dispensary is located within an indoor mall, “then signs outside of the store, but within the mall, would count towards this limit, even though the signs would not be outdoors.”
• Locations of dispensaries: Not “on the same road and within 500 feet of school grounds,” and not “on the same street or avenue and within 200 feet of a building occupied exclusively as a house of worship.”