In New York, the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA) has established a two-tier market structure that prohibits licenses from being vertically integrated and owning the majority of the market. 

  • This will allow for multiple opportunities for social and economic equity applicants and small businesses to apply for licenses.
  • The adult-use microbusiness, cooperative, on-site consumption, and delivery licenses will be prioritized for social and economic equity applicants
  • Licenses issued under the social and economic equity plan cannot be transferred or sold within the first three years of issuance, except to another qualified social and economic equity applicant with approval from the Cannabis Control Board.
  • Also, all non-equity licensees are required as part of the application process, to develop and implement a social responsibility framework, designed to contribute to communities disproportionally impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Social and Economic Equity Groups

New York’s Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management have established a goal to award 50% of all adult-use licenses to social and economic equity applicants, that include individuals who have lived in communities disproportionally impacted by the War on Drugs and other underrepresented groups mentioned below:

- Minority-Owned Businesses: A business enterprise that is at least fifty-one percent owned by one or more minority group members (Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, and Pacifics Islanders)

- Women-Owned Businesses: A business enterprise that is at least fifty-one percent owned by one or more United States citizens or permanent resident aliens who are women.

-Minority and Women-Owned Businesses: A firm owned by a minority group member who is also a woman may be defined as a minority-owned business, a women-owned business, or both.

-Distressed Farmers: A New York state resident or business enterprise that meets the small farm classification developed by the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture or is a small farm operator and meets any other qualifications as defined in the regulations by the board.

-Service-Disabled Veterans: A business enterprise that is at least fifty-one percent owned by one or more service-disabled veterans.

Extra priority shall be given to applications that demonstrate that an applicant:

- Is a member of a community disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis


-Has an income lower than eighty percent of the median income of the county in which the

the applicant resides;

-Was convicted of a cannabis-related offense or had a family member convicted of a cannabis-related offense before these regulations came into effect.

Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License (CAURD)

The OCM has started the process of awarding cannabis retail dispensary licenses in New York, and in the first round, about 100 licenses will be awarded only to Justice-Involved individuals. Proof of a prior marijuana conviction is central to eligibility for the first group of CAURD licenses. To be eligible, applicants must satisfy all Justice-Involved criteria and must have prior business ownership experience (at least 10% ownership in a business that can demonstrate 2 years of net profit).

-Justice-Involved means someone who has a cannabis conviction or is an eligible family member/relative of someone with a cannabis conviction.

-These convictions must have occurred in New York State, and on or before March 31, 2021. The applicant must be able to present proof of conviction.

-The Justice-Involved person must own at least 51% of the proposed cannabis business.

-The Applicant must submit a complete business plan for their proposed dispensary, along with the required financial documents.

-There's a $2,000 non-refundable application and license fee.