New York Marijuana Consumption Site License

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What Is a Marijuana Consumption Site in New York?

New York marijuana consumption sites are locations where medical and recreational marijuana users can legally smoke or consume marijuana within the specified limits in the state. Consumption sites are lounge-like locations that allow people to buy and use cannabis on-site. Per New York's marijuana law, cannabis can only be used in a private home or a state-licensed on-site consumption site. The New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) also adds cannabis to the Clean Indoor Air Act which establishes a baseline on where cannabis can be vaped or smoked. All inhaled forms of cannabis including smoking, vaping, and dabbing generate an aerosol of fine particles that convey the psychoactive agent in cannabis (Tetrahydrocannabinol) deep into the lungs of the consumers. However, these forms of consumption also pollute the air and can be harmful to other people especially individuals under the age of 21.

Does New York License Marijuana Consumption Sites?

Yes. Pursuant to the MRTA, the on-site consumption license is one of the licenses issued by the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). The on-site consumption license authorizes the acquisition, possession, and sale of cannabis from the licensed premises of the on-site consumption licensee to cannabis consumers for use at the on-site consumption location. Note that an adult-use on-site consumption licensee is not allowed to provide cannabis products to any person under the age of 21. Also, no person under the age of 21 is permitted on the premises of a New York cannabis on-site consumption facility.

How to Get a Marijuana On-Site Consumption License in New York

Neither are the regulations for the operations of the recreational cannabis industry in New York promulgated yet, nor is the Office of Cannabis Management currently accepting applications for on-site consumption licenses. However, under the MRTA, certain requirements have been stipulated for cannabis on-site consumption license applicants.

The MRTA offers strict lease requirements for on-site consumption license applicants. No applicant will be awarded an on-site consumption license unless the applicant owns the premises or is in possession of the premises under a written lease for a duration equal to or greater than the license period. However, as allowed in the MRTA, such permits may be renewed without the need of a lease.

The lease requirement is waived for premises leased from government agencies, provided that the relevant administrator of the government agency produces written documentation detailing the terms of tenancy under which the applicant is leasing the premises. Such paperwork must be provided with the licensing application submitted to the OCM. Additionally, the paperwork should contain any short-term lease arrangements or signed occupancy agreements between the applicant and the government agency.

No marijuana on-site consumption license applicant will be granted a license for any premises within 500 feet of school grounds or 200 feet from a house of worship.

Additionally, the MRTA requires the OCM to establish rules specifying the requirements for granting a license to an application. These conditions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The applicant may be seen as a social and economic equity applicant.
  • The applicant will be capable of managing illicit cannabis trafficking efficiently.
  • The applicant certifies that he or she will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
  • The applicant and representatives are prepared, willing, and competent in carrying out the license-requested activities.
  • The applicant either possesses or has the right to use sufficient land, buildings, and equipment to conduct the activity described in the application correctly or has a plan to do so if they qualify as a social and economic equity applicant.
  • The applicant either satisfies the social and economic equity standards or demonstrates a commitment to supporting communities and individuals who are disproportionately impacted by cannabis law enforcement.

New York integrated social and economic equity into the MRTA to guarantee that members of minority groups who have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition benefit from legalization. Applicants for social and economic equity include the following:

  • Individuals from groups disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition's enforcement
  • Businesses owned by minorities
  • Businesses founded by women
  • Businesses owned by minorities and women
  • Farmers in distress
  • Veteran with a service-connected disability

Additionally, applicants who are members of a community that has been disproportionately impacted by prior cannabis prohibition enforcement, earn less than 80% of the county's median income, have been convicted of a marijuana offense, or have a close family member who has been convicted will be given preference.

The MRTA recommends that an application for an on-site consumption license be granted in the public interest, taking into consideration, but not limited to, the following factors:

  • That growing, processing, transporting, distributing, and selling marijuana for adult consumption are considered privileges, not rights
  • The number and kind of cannabis licenses in the local neighborhood of the applicant, as well as throughout the municipality or subdivision thereof.
  • Evidence that all required licenses and permissions have been acquired or will be obtained from the state and any other regulatory agencies relevant
  • The licensee's effect on pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as well as on nearby parking.
  • The present noise level on the property and any additional noise created by the proposed establishment.
  • Capacity for minimizing negative environmental consequences such as water use, energy consumption, and carbon emissions.
  • The impact on cannabis production and availability.
  • Any additional legal or regulatory issues relevant to determining whether granting a license is in the public convenience and benefit, as well as the community's public interest.
  • The applicant and its management executives are of sound moral character and do not possess or control more licenses or permits than permitted by the MRTA.
  • The applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with a legitimate labor organization that is actively representing or attempting to represent the applicant's employees, and compliance with the terms of the labor peace agreement is a material condition of licensing. When considering applications from firms with 25 or more workers, the OCM must give precedence to applicants who are party to collective bargaining agreements with bona fide labor organizations in New York or another state and who utilize union labor to construct their licensed facility.
  • The applicant will support communities and individuals that have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis law enforcement and will promote their efforts through the OCM.
  • Additionally, the application must fulfill any additional OCM standards; and, if the applicant is a registered organization, the applicant must demonstrate the organization's ongoing efforts toward producing, distributing, and/or studying medical cannabis in preparation for certification.

Section 62.3 of the MRTA requires applicants to affirm, under penalty of perjury, that their applications are truthful. Additionally, they should expect to be contacted for the following information:

  • Race and ethnic origin
  • Information about ownership and investment (including corporate structure)
  • Demonstration of moral integrity (including fingerprinting)
  • Location information for the cannabis dispensary
  • Financial Reports

Note that the MRTA allows local authorities to opt out from permitting an on-site consumption site to be located within their jurisdictions. However, municipalities are not allowed to opt out of adult-use legalization. To opt out of permitting the establishment of on-site consumption sites, a municipality must pass a local law by December 31, 2021. That is, if a municipality has previously enacted a local law or resolution restricting adult-use cannabis licensees from operating within its jurisdiction, the municipality must enact a new local legislation that complies with the MRTA's opt-out criteria.

Per the MRTA, a municipality that does not opt out by December 31, 2021, will be unable to opt out at a future date. If a town chooses to opt out, it only affects the area of the town outside of any village within the town. County governments are not allowed to opt out of permitting the establishment of on-site consumption licenses within their jurisdiction. Any municipal legislation that opts out of allowing on-site consumption permits will be subject to a permissive vote in accordance with Section 24 of the Municipal Home Rule Law. This enables municipal voters to petition for approval or disapproval of the local legislation.

At least 30 days before filing an application for an on-site consumption license, an applicant must inform the municipality of the plan to do so. Notification must be given to the village, town, or city clerk, or, if the proposed premise is located in the city of New York, to the community board in New York City. When a municipality expresses an opinion in support or opposition to a license application, the opinion becomes part of the record and is utilized by the OCM to decide whether to approve or deny the application. The Cannabis Control Board must then reply in writing to the city, town, village, or community board, stating how such a perspective was considered in deciding whether to approve or reject an application.

By constantly visiting the OCM website, you may keep updated about the application window and deadlines. Applicants who have been denied in their applications can apply to the Cannabis Control Board for a review of such decisions in a manner to be provided by the rules of the Board.

How Much Does a Marijuana On-Site Consumption License Cost in New York?

The cost for an on-site consumption license in New York is not yet known. Until the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management promulgates the rules for the regulations and operations of the adult-use marijuana industry in the state, the fee will remain undecided. What is clear under the MRTA though, is that the fee will be non-refundable. The Act also provides for a waiver or reduction in the licensing fee for applicants considered to be social and economic equity applicants.

Can Licensed Marijuana Consumption Sites Hold Other Cannabis Licenses in New York?

New York on-site consumption licensees are not permitted to have a direct or indirect financial or controlling interest or own more than three on-site consumption licenses. They are also not allowed to own or have any interests in an adult-use retail dispensary, cultivation, processor, microbusiness, cooperative, or distributor license.

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New York Marijuana Consumption Site License