New York OKs 114 adult-use marijuana permits as legal stores trail illicit 24-to-1

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New York regulators on Friday approved 114 more adult-use marijuana licenses, but illicit stores continue to outnumber legal operators by nearly 24-to-1.

Estimates vary as to how many unlicensed cannabis sellers there are in New York.

But according to figures obtained by The New York Times, there are at least 2,000 illicit operators in the state.

Conversely, 87 licensed marijuana retailers are open for business in the state, according to the latest Office of Cannabis Management data.

And of those, 10 are delivery-only, the OCM data shows.

Of the 114 licenses approved by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) on Friday:

  • 45 were permits to open stores.
  • 38 were non-conditional adult-use permits for “entrepreneurs who applied during the 2023 application window,” which opened Oct. 4.
  • 31 were microbusiness permits, which allow a “licensee to grow, process, distribute and sell all under one license.”

Regulators also waived some cultivation fees for two years, according to the governor’s office, for store owners “transitioning to non-conditional license types, including cultivation licenses and microbusiness licenses.”

The costs for conditional cultivator permits vary, based on the licensee tier and grow size, from $4,500 to $40,000.

New York legalized adult use in March 2021, but three years later, the legal market is far from fulfilling early rosy promises of a multibillion-dollar industry.

The state’s legal marijuana sales topped $150 million in 2023, according to state regulators.

That’s far behind other states that legalized adult use more recently, such as Missouri, where retailers totaled more than $1 billion in recreational sales in 2023 after legalizing in November 2022.