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NY Marijuana Business Law - Recreational

Presently, under both Federal and New York State Law, the sale and use of Marijuana for recreational purposes is prohibited. However, in recent years states such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California have legalized the recreational sale of marijuana.

New York's neighbors are gearing up for the sale of recreational marijuana, The Cannabis Act, passed in Canada, controls and regulates the growth, distribution, and sale of recreational marijuana in Canada. Massachusetts and New Jersey have both legalized recreational cannabis.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a proposal to legalize and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate marijuana in New York as part of the 2021 State of the State. 

“I think this should have been passed years ago,” Mr. Cuomo said during a video briefing. “This is a year where we do need the funding and a lot of New Yorkers are struggling. This year will give us the momentum to get it over the goal line.”

Sen. Liz Krueger (D) and 18 cosponsors also filed cannabis legislation, which is identical to a bill she sponsored last year and has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It would make it so adults 21 and older would be able to purchase cannabis and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.

Cuomo has been on record for years promising to enact legislation to legalize recreational weed. What makes this year different than every other year? Will recreational cannabis finally be legalized in New York? What will legalized the marijuana landscape look like for budding entrepreneurs?

The old Caffe Ragio where Bob Dylan played in the '60s is for rent. Should we expect Amsterdam-style cannabis coffee shops like the Bulldog to set up shop on Bleeker Street once COVID subsides? Will craft cannabis drinks be for sale at restaurants? Will there be a special permit for minority entrepreneurs looking to get into the recreational cannabis market? Will large medical marijuana companies already licensed in New York such as MadMen and Curaleaf dominate the market like Amazon due to their enormous resources and established footprint? 

We still don't know the answers to these questions and that is part of the problem. Despite Democrats holding supermajorities in the legislature, our elected officials disagree on the type of businesses that should be allowed and where the tax revenues should be spent. Now looks like the time they will be forced to act. The proposed law includes low- or zero-interest loans for qualifying equity applicants who wish to start marijuana businesses.

What you can do now to prepare for the potential legalization of recreational marijuana in New York

  • Attend a Medical Marijuana listening tour. event. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that members of his working group, which is tasked with crafting legislation creating a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana, will meet 15 times to get local input on their task
  • Read through NY medical marijuana regulations and determine what business type you'd like to have.
  • If you'll be seeking financing and investors or partners, you'll need a business plan to present to them. Ask me about Marijuana Business plans for details and get a business plan to fit your needs.
  • You will need to set up a corporate structure for your business
  • Determine your potential location(s) and investigate whether licensing is possible in the prospective cities or counties.
  • When the time comes, you will need to review your lease to ascertain whether your business will be permitted.

If you have any questions about planning to open a marijuana business in New York, feel free to call me at 212-233-0666.


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When you're ready to take the next step you can begin the process online. If you'd like to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation in my office you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 212-233-0666.