Cannabis retail applications swamping some New York cities
Cities in Upstate New York Inundated With Cannabis Dispensary Applications.
With two weeks to go until New York State’s deadline for cannabis retail dispensary applications, large upstate cities have been inundated with paperwork from people seeking permits from municipalities.
The floodgates have opened — at least as far as Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse are concerned.
Rochester’s corporation counsel, Linda Kingsley, told NY Cannabis Insider that the city has “been really swamped” with applications, which are taking up about 20 percent of her time.
“We’re getting buried,” she said. “I’ve got between 50 and 60 applications sitting here on my desk.”
The surge coincides with the open enrollment period for adult-use cannabis cultivator, processor, distributor and retail dispensary license applications. The Office of Cannabis Management opened the application period on Oct. 4, and it will close on Dec. 18 at 5 p.m.
Buffalo City Clerk Tianna Marks told NY Cannabis Insider that her city has received 47 retail dispensary applications as of late last week.
Buffalo has imposed no cap on how many legal cannabis businesses can be located within the city, but “they are taking a look at how to handle them all,” she said.
Every application has to go through the approval process, Marks said, which includes proper zoning and approval from the legal department and the common council.
Additionally, though the Syracuse City Clerk’s Office told NY Cannabis Insider earlier this year that applications were few and far between, activity within the Central New York city has picked up – with 36 applications as of Monday.
Kingsley, the Rochester corporation counsel, stressed that the vetting process is rigorous and not all applications are likely to be approved.
“Just about every neighborhood has been hit,” she said, and city officials will definitely be concerned with over-saturation.
Rochester must also make sure that a prospective business is in an area zoned for retail, and minimum distances from sensitive places like churches and schools are maintained.
Equally important are the background checks headed up by “high-ranking members of the police department,” Kingsley said.
Prior convictions for marijuana offenses are actually a plus for would-be weed retailers, Kingsley noted, but the police will flag applicants with hard drug convictions and past instances of fraud.
Additionally, Kingsley said that the city had recently heard from an applicant looking to operate a second Cannabis Growers Showcase in the city – but said there wasn’t time to properly vet the applicant before the OCM’s Dec. 31 deadline for the showcases to stop.
While there are rumblings throughout New York’s cannabis network that the OCM does plan to extend the Dec. 31 deadline, the agency did not respond to a request for comment on the topic.