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...A Good Investment? New Year, New Journeys Begin

written by Jordan Dunn

 As of November 2022, it was almost go-time for those in the cannabis industry in Upstate New York. The state was scheduled to officially announce the first round of Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License recipients on the 21st of that month, leading many to believe that retail spaces would soon follow. 

Come December, the state awarded 36 retail licenses to a select few of the over 900 original applicants that applied to the first wave of the program. Out of those 36, four were appointed in the general Capital Region and its surrounding area. 

However, on the 11th of December, roadblocks started popping up left and right. The first to appear was when a federal judge blocked New York from issuing the licenses due to a “lawsuit filed by a company whose application to operate a marihuana store failed to qualify because its owner lacked a significant New York state presence,” stated an article from the Times Union. It was reported that the company's owner is a resident of Michigan though the company is incorporated in NY.  

On the 29th, Housing Works, a Manhattan based nonprofit, became the first CAURD licensee to open its doors in New York State. Another New York city based business became the second shortly thereafter.

A New Year with…Slow Realities?

By the time the 1st of the new year rolled around, only 4 of the 36 selected licensees were based in and around the Capital Region, and none were overly close to opening their doors. This was due to several factors including the fact that the State had originally told the licensees that the State’s Dormitory Authority would be the institution responsible for selecting the physical retail location of each operation, but then changed this ruling at the end of December 2022.

On January 24th, three more marijuana retailers were approved by the Office of Cannabis Management for the Capital Region area, making a new total of seven. This decision was one of a larger effort, with 30 new licenses being granted across the state, bringing the grand total up to 66 licensees. At the time, five of the regions were still barred from acting upon their licenses due to the aforementioned injunction that was issued in mid December 2022. 

As of February 14th, the first non-New York City based establishment, Just Breathe, opened up in Binghamton, New York. 

Where Does it All Stand Now?

As of late February, the seven Capital Region based licensees were as follows: Thinc Provisions, Inc., Ten Cees, Humble Country, Stage One Cannabis, Essential Flowers, Capital District Cannabis & Wellness, Inc. and Upstate Canna Co. (Schenectady). 

Though all deemed with the same license, it seems that each company is moving at their own pace in regards to setting up shop. This pace is due to many factors including but not limited to the unfortunate reality that each company is not only up against the current real estate market and economy, but they are also up against the zoning laws and policies established by the NYS Office of Cannabis Management, as well as the stipulations of their own specific municipalities. 

On March 3rd, the state announced that they will be allotting an additional amount of licenses to those with past convictions. An originally estimated 150 has now risen to 300 retail shops that will be licenced throughout the state. At this time, only 66  licenses have been made official. 

An article from the Times Union reported that the Capital Region could now see a rise from seven to 14 approved businesses for this first round.  

It currently remains unclear whether any of the selected will set up shop as far north as Glens Falls, or even in our neck of the woods in Saratoga Springs.