May 15, 2019

New York is not an easy market for prospective medical marijuana entrepreneurs. The costs of setting up this type of company and the limited supply of licenses make things more challenging. However, the state is trying to address these problems by expanding the program and adding more dispensaries.

Registered Organizations (the official name of marijuana businesses) are tasked with supplying, delivering and manufacturing all the medical marijuana to qualifying patients in New York state. Read on to learn what it will take to start a marijuana dispensary in New York.

When was cannabis made legal

Under regulations enacted as of July 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo legalized the use of medical marijuana use by registered patients with qualifying conditions.

Marijuana dispensaries (also known as Registered Organizations) are the responsible vendors for manufacturing and supplying New York State with medical marijuana.

When was cannabis made legal
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Applications remained open for a short period of time and were closed on June 2015, less than a year since legalization. Applications for prospective entrepreneurs were closed on June 2015.

How many dispensaries are there currently in the state

There are currently 10 registered organizations in operation state-wide, and New York state has not indicated when they will accept new applications.

The medical marijuana program license application period was open from April 27 through June 5, 2015. Only five registered organizations were awarded legal status in August of 2015. The licensee holders are allowed to open 4 dispensaries each, totaling to 20 locations in the whole state.

The first dispensaries opened on January 7, 2016.

New York’s program authorized each license winner to operate one cultivation and processing facility and five geographically-spread out dispensaries. It should be noted that costs for opening and operating a dispensary in New York state are quite high.

In 2016, 526 physicians registered to certify patients for medical marijuana. 2,675 patients received certifications.

How much money is there in the dispensary market

Medical sales for 2016 amounted to $35,700,000 while estimated medical sales for 2021 are expected to reach $253,500,000

Dispensary Owner requirements

New York’s dispensary system is currently quite preventive to new business owners, with limited doctor participation and supply adding up to the high costs. Although the state is trying to address the problem, there is no planned date for the re-opening of retail business applications.

However, a biannual report that came out in August 2016 suggested 12 recommendations for improving the program, including wanting to add five more dispensing organizations in the next two years.

Dispensary Owner requirements
Dispensary Owner requirements – Image powered by Abe.edu.ph

Several of those recommendations have already been implemented, such as home delivery, chronic pain as a qualifying condition, wholesale, and allowing physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to certify patients for the program.

One notable aspect of New York’s legislature is that it specifically bans patients from smoking cannabis. All methods must be approved, but smoking is banned. This erratic legislature leads to lower purchasing from patients, endangering the viability of the cannabis market in the state.

License and Financial requirements

2015 was the year in which the first and last application for medical cannabis businesses process was open. For this procedure, applicants were required to submit:

  • $10,000 non-refundable application fee
  • $200,000 registration fee, refunded to applicants not issued a registration

Licensing and renewal fees are quite steep in New York state:

  • Registered Organization Registration Fee= $200,000 (submitted at time of application, and refunded if application is subsequently denied)
  • Registered Organization Registration Renewal Fee= $200,000 (submitted at time of application, and refunded if application is subsequently denied)

How much does a marijuana Dispensary in New York make?

Marijuana dispensaries and delivery services generally bring anywhere from $50,000 a year up to millions, or even tens of millions of dollars.


The time frame varies greatly on how long it takes to get a cannabis business up and running, but it can often take one year or more to get finances in order, acquire necessary licenses, get suppliers and employees lined up, etc.

Timeframe – Image powered by Freepik.com

Links to consulting companies that can help open a marijuana dispensary in New York

Looking to start a marijuana dispensary in New York? The consulting companies listed below provide a wide range of services from helping with state licensing requirements and applications to running and stocking your business.

Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]


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