In The Weed: Recreational Marijuana in New York

By David and Joseph on February 21, 2019 in Cannabis

What to expect when we’re expecting.

Introducing In the Weed — your timely dose of cannabis news brought to you by Helbraun Levey.  We will be reporting on the emerging NY Recreational Cannabis Law as it moves its way through Albany and we will break down the latest developments for you.  We will also be touring the country to visit some of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and we will be meeting with cannabis entrepreneurs, government officials and service professionals in those states to find out what lessons they have learned so we can be prepared when New York rolls it out.

Through this newsletter and upcoming seminars, we aim to educate you about recreational cannabis so you will possess the knowledge and the tools you need to prepare for starting a recreational marijuana business in New York.
So, here’s what’s happening….

The Governor’s Budget and Proposed Cannabis Control Law

When the Governor’s budget surfaced in mid-January of 2019, it contained nearly 200 pages (approximately ½ of the entire budget documentation) dedicated to the creation of the Cannabis Control Law and the Office of Cannabis Management which will be used to legalize and regulate adult-use, recreational Cannabis.

The Cannabis Control Law is currently being edited and commented upon by the legislature so the specifics have yet to be finalized or released, yet we do know a few key details.  The most important is that the framework of this new law appears to very closely resemble that of the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (ABCL) – the code governing the legal sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in New York.  This is great news for our clients as our firm has extensive experience with the ABC law.

History predicts the Future:  Liquor Laws and Medical Marijuana

When New York rolled out its Medical Marijuana program, it required all applicants/licensees to commit to a “seed-to-sale” model. In order to secure a medical marijuana license, you had to be prepared to plant the seeds, cultivate and harvest the plants, manufacture the products and then sell them to the end user.

New York’s recreational program appears to be going in an entirely different direction.  Pulling a page from the ABCL’s book, it appears as though New York will approach the cannabis industry in a similar way that they approach the alcoholic beverage industry – recognizing different “tiers” within the space and differentiating license classes.  This will be a much more open landscape than what we witnessed with the medical program in New York and opportunities to vie for  licenses will abound.

How and When will Rec be Legalized?
The NY State Legislature will now decide if it will keep the bill in the Governor’s budget or pull it out and have it be a stand-alone bill.  If it stays where it is, we will know by April if it becomes law, if they pull it out, we will know in June or later.  So we are hopeful that the law will be enacted in the first half of 2019 but you never know.  This will be an ongoing political saga and we will be following the theatrics closely and will keep you apprised.

Next Steps for the Cannabis Entrepreneur

When the law gets passed, it’s going to be a free-for-all with hundreds of applications being submitted for the same neighborhoods.  There will certainly be restrictions and not everyone will get approved.  We suggest taking the following steps to best position yourself to get a license:

1.  Attend our seminars, read In The Weed and educate yourself  We will continue to publish this newsletter with all the latest developments and breaking news on how the law is shaping up, so keep reading!  Also, we will be hosting a series of informational seminars with our first one scheduled for March 27th.

2.  Build a business plan.  You need to know what you’re getting into, how much money to raise, how much you can earn and how to go about building a cannabusiness, so start writing a business plan.  We work with experienced cannabis consulting companies who specialize in writing cannabis business plans, so contact us and we will find the right fit for you.

3.  Hire us.  You can put us on retainer and we will work directly with you to make sure you are in the best position possible to obtain a license.

Our first seminar is scheduled for March 27th in Tribeca. Stay tuned for more information.