When New York joined the circle of legal cannabis states in March of 2021, the stampede officially began. With the New York cannabis market projected to capture some $4.6 billion in annual sales by 2027, there’s no shortage of well-funded marijuana ventures vying to get in the game. Given the intense competition generated by the rush to secure a New York cannabis business license, the situation could have seemed dire for small businesses. Fortunately, the state’s cannabis microbusiness program is designed to provide a foot in the door.
In today’s post, we’ll explore the concept and intent of the program, and what it may foretell about the larger New York marijuana legalization rollout. If you’re an independent New York business person looking to enter this fast-moving and exciting market, this article is for you.
Marijuana Legalization NY: A Leg Up for Small Businesses
Echoing a larger trend in marijuana legalization, New York opted to include provisions both for social equity and microbusinesses applicants in its still-evolving cannabis regulations. The aim was to encourage those entrepreneurs who might lack access to raising capital a path toward viability in a crowded and competitive environment.
While both social-equity and microbusiness license applicants may share some attributes, there are important distinctions between the two. As we’ve detailed previously, the New York social equity program aims to stimulate participation in the legal cannabis market to those historically harmed by the War on Drugs. The state’s microbusiness program can be likened to a separate “side door” for a specific category of entrepreneur.
New York cannabis regulations specify different license types for cultivators, producers, and retailers. A microbusiness license is a blend of all three. For an analogy, one might look to the world of microbreweries, which often combine aspects of cultivation—of hops, grains, or other beer-making ingredients—with production (brewing) and sales (both wholesale and retail).
What makes microbusinesses “micro”? In this case, owners of such microbusiness ventures may not hold an interest in any other cannabis licensee, and may only distribute its own cannabis products to dispensaries. In other words, while the regulations allow—in fact, demand—vertical integration of such microbusinesses, these enterprises cannot be “stacked” into multiple holdings.
What’s more, there’s some crossover between social equity and microbusinesses. While the state’s cannabis offices—the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)—have yet to issue complete directives, current regulatory language specifies: “The granting of such licenses shall promote social and economic equity applicants as provided for in this chapter.”
Marijuana Legalized NY: A Special Opportunity for Those Who Prepare
New York’s cannabis microbusiness program offers an important opportunity for entrepreneurs who either lack access to significant capital or may prefer the intimate and hands-on nature of running a craft business. This isn’t to say that securing such a license is going to be simple or easy.
That’s why partnering with an experienced guide such as Bridge West provides value during this especially dynamic moment in NY marijuana legalization. Drawing on our deep knowledge of New York’s regulatory and business environment, we guide our clients through all the necessary steps and hurdles. If you’re ready to get in business, we’d love to talk. Reach out anytime.
We Can Help
If you own a cannabis business or are thinking about starting a cannabis business, we’d like to help. As a partnership of highly skilled and seasoned cannabis industry consultants and advisors, Bridge West Consulting is ready to guide you through this exciting and challenging landscape. Feel free to reach out to us anytime to schedule a consultation.