Grow Your Own: NY Licensing 101

The cannabis industry is both extremely profitable and fast-moving – but only if you know how to work it. With New York state’s population of over 19 million people, there’s a huge market to tap. Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s been working in the industry for some time or a newbie who wants to start off on a good foot in the wake of new legislation, here’s what you need to know about the legal side of growing your own cannabis.

The Law as It Stands

First things first, the current legislation. New York initially legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2021 with the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act(MRTA), which has made it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase, possess, and use up to certain limited amounts of marijuana. Sounds easy, right? Well, there are a couple of things that make it a bit more complicated than you might realize.

It all sounds good on the customer’s end from checkout to chill out, but that’s not the whole story. If you’re looking to cultivate and sell your own supply, you may be wondering how this works with dispensaries and furthermore, growing your own.

For those who don’t want or are unable to grow marijuana themselves, dispensaries aren’t quite open yet in New York. Instead, there’s the option to order for pickup, have it delivered, or even have it shipped from out of state.

But just as many people have been interested in growing their own marijuana for personal use or even to start a commercial business. If you’re part of that group, you’ll need to get a New York state growers license. This will allow you to grow cannabis with over 0.3% THC for adult use, though there are some hang-ups.

Cultivation Licensure Basics

So what does a cultivation or growers license actually entail? Well, it’s basically someone’s permission to sell marijuana that they’ve grown in a commercial setting within the state. But there are some terms, conditions, and requirements that you’ll need to fulfill and some money to pay out-of-pocket. The details are still being finalized, however, they’ll likely be fairly stringent to avoid possible abuse or disregard.

This will likely include an operating plan that tells the state the details of your growing process and physical area to make sure that they’re being properly grown and managed, a report of your product and how much water and energy you’re using, as well as your cleaning procedures. Due to all of these requirements, you’ll want to be extremely thorough in your research and documentation of your process.

Why Get a License?

So why get a license if it’s such a tall task? There are three main reasons: to follow the law, to maintain a trustworthy business, and to be able to scale your business.

Compliance With the Law

Although it’s legal to possess, use, and soon enough, sell, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still regulations and laws to follow. For example, there are escalating penalties and punishments for the unlawful sale of cannabis, starting with a low fine to a full-on Class D Felony if you sell more than 2 pounds of concentrated cannabis or more than 5 pounds of non-concentrated cannabis. Other than the charges for the unlawful sale, you’ll likely have to deal with a number of issues come tax season if you aren’t properly licensed and authorized to sell.

Maintaining a Trustworthy Business

While some Americans may be used to buying cannabis from less than legal groups or individuals, with its legalization comes a focus on purchasing from the right companies. And the right companies are those that gain and keep their customers’ trust. If you aren’t licensed, you won’t be able to sell without breaking the law, which puts you and the customers you may serve at risk, and overall makes them much less likely to buy from you.

Additionally, marijuana should be independently tested for purity and strength. If you’re compliant with the law, customers will trust you to be more honest and upfront about how your product is tested and will want to buy from you rather than another business that isn’t so honest.

Scaling Your Business

Putting your best foot forward at the beginning will make it much easier to properly own and operate your business. And that’s not just regarding your financials but your legal matters too. Scaling a business relies on having the goal, process, and focus all in alignment and that starts with a strong foundation with the proper licenses and authorizations.

Start Your Business Right

With marijuana becoming more understood as a substance and the popularity it has for both recreational and medicinal use, plenty of people want to try their hand at growing and selling it on their own. And now that you’ve read this, you’ll have a bit more information on what that process entails and how to get started growing your own supply in New York.