On Friday, October 28, 2022, with no announcement, publicity or advance warning, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) released its “Guidance for Adult-Use Dispensaries” (the Regulations). Although not expressly referenced in the title, the intent of releasing these regulations is to provide guidance for Conditional Adult-Use Retails Dispensary (CAURD) licensees and applicants.

All CAURD applicants should learn the details and requirements of the Regulations. Despite the repeated references to “guidance” in the Regulations, make no mistake, these are Regulations that both licensees and applicants are required to follow:

[CAURD] applicants may be asked to submit the records and plans described in this guidance on the CAURD application and at the request of the [OCM]. Failure to submit, or refusal to submit, required materials may subject CAURD applicants to denial or non-selection of the applicant for a CAURD license.

This is a clear sign that the OCM is gearing up to issue CAURD licenses and consistent with Governor Hochul’s statement that adult-use retail dispensaries will open in 2022, as well as Cannabis Control Board Chairwoman Tremaine Wright’s statement at the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference that at least one dispensary will be open in 2022.

The information contained in the Regulations is a mix of substantive requirements, operational guidance and insight into the OCM’s plans for the issuance of licenses and operation of New York’s cannabis industry. As put by the OCM:

[T]his guidance document serves to provide the framework that will assist [CAURD] licensees to plan for how to operate their dispensary before regulations are formally adopted. . . . This guidance document provides clarity on what the [OCM’s] expectations are in relation to those regulations and laws currently in place and the regulations that will be promulgated in the future.

There is a LOT to unpack here. To provide actual insight into the Regulations’ various categories, we’ll be publishing a five-part series on the Regulations:

  • Part 1: Retail Dispensary Operations
  • Part 2: Sales
  • Part 3: Cannabis Inventory
  • Part 4: Delivery and Distributions
  • Part 5: Dispensary Physical Requirements and Rules

The Regulations were posted on the CAURD licensing section of the OCM website, so obviously the Regulations were drafted with CAURD licenses in mind. But it is also apparent that the Regulations will be the framework for all adult-use retail dispensaries in New York given that the physical requirements track the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

One significant development that we just cannot wait to comment on: the OCM appears to be moving away from its mandate that CAURD licensees operate in State-leased locations. Section 23 of the Regulations, titled “Location of Licensed Premises,” provides:

Certain retail dispensary licensees may be permitted to select the location of the licensed premises or relocate the location of the licensed premises.

The State-leased location requirement has been picked apart by us here. We suspect that the difficulty and delay in leasing and building out dispensary locations is forcing the OCM to consider loosening the initial requirement that CAURD licensees operate only in State-leased locations.

Clearly New York’s cannabis industry is developing quickly, including with New York’s self-imposed deadline to begin retail sales by the end of 2022. Stay tuned for Part 1 of our series on the Regulations and further developments in New York’s cannabis industry!

Simon Malinowski

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