5 Must-Know Facts About the Emerging Cannabis Market for Your New York Dispensary

February 16, 2024

The cannabis industry is undergoing a significant transformation in New York. With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, the demand for dispensaries in New York has skyrocketed, opening up a host of opportunities for entrepreneurs and consumers alike. In this short guide, we will delve into the emerging market of New York dispensaries, covering topics such as the state's cannabis market, the process of obtaining a dispensary license, the availability of recreational dispensaries, and the regulatory framework surrounding cannabis in New York.

The New York Cannabis Market

With a population of over 19 million people, New York holds immense potential for the cannabis industry. According to recent market research, the legal cannabis market in the state is projected to reach $7.07 billion by 2025 according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc., indicating a robust growth trajectory. As an entrepreneur, recognizing the untapped market potential can be a crucial factor in deciding to open a dispensary in New York.

Are there recreational dispensaries in New York?

Yes, there are dispensaries in New York that serve both medical and recreational cannabis consumers. However, the availability of recreational dispensaries may vary across different regions of the state. It is important to note that while medical dispensaries have been established for some time, the process of licensing and opening recreational dispensaries is still underway, leading to a limited number of options. According to the New York Office of Cannabis Management, there are currently ~20 licensed cannabis dispensaries for recreational use and 40 registered medical cannabis dispensaries.

Cannabis Regulations

In addition to the general cannabis regulations, New York has specific regulations governing the cannabis industry at the state level. These regulations cover security requirements, product packaging and labeling guidelines, quality control measures, and more. Adhering to these regulations is crucial for maintaining compliance and ensuring the long-term success of your dispensary.

The MRTA (Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act) legalizes the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older, previously, it could only be obtained and used for medical purposes under New York’s Medical Marijuana Program, established in 2014.

The New York State Office of Cannabis Management will license cultivators, processors, distributors, and dispensaries to grow and sell cannabis in New York.

To keep up to date on New York State rules and regulations visit cannabis.ny.gov.

How to Get a Dispensary License in New York

Obtaining a dispensary license in New York requires navigating a multi-step process. The state has implemented a competitive and comprehensive application system to regulate the industry effectively. It involves submitting detailed business plans, financial documentation, security protocols, and compliance strategies. The success rate for obtaining a license can vary, with rigorous criteria ensuring only qualified applicants receive approval.


To open a New York dispensary, you’ll need an Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License, which allows your business to possess, sell, and deliver cannabis.

The first retail dispensary license available is called a CAURD license (Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License) for which there are two types of eligibility: qualifying business criteria and qualifying nonprofit criteria.

Qualifying business criteria: at least thirty percent (30%) of the applicant, if it is an entity, must be owned by an individual who is/has:

  • Justice involved, as described below.
  • Qualifying business experience, as described below.
  • Sole control of the applicant:
  •   Approve the business’ operating budget.
  •   Maintain the books or financial records for the business.
  •   Hire or fire executive personnel.
  •   Direct the board or approve contracts for the management of facility services.
  • Significant presence in New York State, as described below.

Qualifying nonprofit criteria: at least thirty percent (30%) of the applicant must be owned by a qualifying nonprofit organization that has:

  • Created vocational opportunities for incarcerated individuals, including justice-involved individuals.
  • Intentionally served incarcerated individuals, including justice-involved individuals.
  • At least one justice-involved board member, officer, governing committee member, or advising committee member.
  • At least five full-time employees.
  • Operated a social enterprise that had net assets or profit for at least two (2) years with the following details:
  •   Defined as a business serving customers.
  •   Operated or fiscally sponsored by a nonprofit.
  •   Generates revenue.
  • Sole control of the applicant:
  •   Approve the business’ operating budget.
  •   Maintain the books or financial records for the business.
  •   Hire or fire executive personnel.
  •   Direct the board or approve contracts for the management of facility services.
  • Significant presence in New York State; must have residency, assets (vehicles, land, etc.), real property (primary, secondary, and/or rental homes), a bank account, or some other connection with the New York State.

What does it mean to be a Justice Involved Individual

  • Was convicted or had a relative convicted of a marijuana-related offense in New York State before March 31, 2021.
  • Was the dependent of someone convicted of a marijuana-related offense in New York State before March 31, 2021.

Review all the CAURD details directly on the Office of Cannabis Management website.

Product Insights

The recreational marijuana industry is expected to experience the fastest growth by 2025. In recent years, medical marijuana has dominated the market, but with the legalization of recreational cannabis, the preference is expected to shift.

Types of Products

The New York cannabis market is segmented into buds, oils, and tinctures. The cannabis buds market share is expected to be the highest with the fastest growth in the next 3 years (2025). Buds are the market's preferred choice because of its affordability, as oils and tinctures are more expensive.

On the other hand, the side effects of smoking has negatively impacted its social acceptance. The various forms available for cannabis oils and their effective medical treatment has produced anticipated growth at a lucrative pace.

Final Thoughts on the New York Market

The emerging cannabis market in New York offers significant potential for entrepreneurs looking to open a dispensary. Understanding the market dynamics, obtaining a dispensary license, navigating the regulatory landscape, and staying informed about evolving industry trends are key steps toward success. By capitalizing on this emerging market, entrepreneurs can contribute to the growth of the cannabis industry in New York while meeting the needs of consumers in search of new experiences.

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February 2024


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