How to Prepare for New York Cannabis License Applications: Helpful Tips and Lessons Learned from the Conditional License Application Process

By Michelle Bodian, Bridgette Nikisher

Oct 18, 2022

The application windows are now closed for all conditional cannabis licenses in New York. Adult-use Conditional Cultivator (AUCC), Adult-use Conditional Processor (AUCP), and Conditional Adult-use Retail Dispensaries (CAURD) each had unique considerations, including eligibility criteria and, most notably, the application itself. Some lessons learned from that process may be helpful for the upcoming “regular” cannabis license application process.

So, during the lull before the next round of licenses are available, hopeful New York cannabis entrepreneurs should use the time effectively to prepare. Read the following helpful tips and best practices to position you and your business for a smooth application process.

Consider and Finalize Your Corporate Structure 

While there may be business or strategic reasons to wait to form your entity, if you’re dead-set on a particular corporate structure, now is the time to nail down those details. Finalizing your corporate structure is one of the most time-consuming tasks—and one with many moving pieces—so it’s best to get it checked off your list as soon as possible.

Below are a few examples of corporate documents that were required for the AUCP, AUCC and CAURD applications:

  • Articles of Incorporation/Certificate of Formation

  • Certificate of Good Standing, or equivalent

    • In some states, including New York and Delaware, these are physically mailed to you, so please be sure to order in advance

    • If your entity is not in good standing, please be prepared to provide an explanation

  • Organizational Charts

    • These organizational charts should identify all individuals with any ownership or control, their title, and their percentage of ownership. If the entity has parent companies, the ownership must be traced back to individuals, identifying each individual’s ownership in the applicant entity. These individuals may be considered true parties of interest

  • EIN Letter and other tax-related documents, including state tax registration

  • Pro-Forma for capital and operational expenses

  • Documentation evidencing financial strength/capacity

  • You will have to identify all sources of cash and all borrowed funds

Gather Documents 

  • The existing “True Party of Interest” (TPI forms require a lot of detail, take time to understand what is being asked and who is required to fill them out

    • Note that for any individual completing a TPI form, you must also collect a government-issued photo ID, a TPI disclosure, and a tax clearance form for their spouse

  • Read all instructions/guidance prior to completing any forms or gathering any documents

    • The existing TPI forms provide instructions on how to properly complete them. Feel free to reach out to Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) with any questions you may have

  • Each individual may need to provide a disclosure form, a tax clearance form, and copies of government-issued photo identification

    • If asked to upload government-issued photo identification, you will need to upload the front and the back. At some points in the portal, you will have to upload a combined document with both sides of the ID, and in other parts of the portal, you will have to upload the front and the back separately

Business Express Portal Challenges & Tips 

  • Create an account now

    • If you know which entity you will be using to apply for the various licenses, you can create an account ahead of time

    • Be sure that the email address associated with the account is one that you or one of your business partners checks regularly

  • When completing your application, you will be required to enter all owners of your business

    • Be careful when completing this section as an accidental addition may be very difficult to remove

    • You may be unable to associate a title with an individual or an entity with 0% ownership at this stage in the application. In this scenario, they will have to be added later on under additional true parties of interest

  • Account verification is required

    • You must verify your account within 48 hours of creating it, so ensure you have access to the associated email account

  • Be prepared to combine files

    • You are often only able to upload one document per prompt, so you may need to combine PDF files and prepare a cover sheet, table of contents, or other means of identifying the files uploaded

  • Saving isn’t as easy as you’d expect

    • To save progress, you must answer every question on the current screen. You can save and close and return at another time

  • If the web portal is busy, it will be slow

    • Start completing your application as soon as possible to allow yourself plenty of time to work through the portal and any tech issues that may arise

  • The portal sometimes stops working

    • Presumably, this occurred when the system got overloaded, but leave plenty of time as there were several hours when no documents were able to be uploaded

Application Tips and Tricks 

  • Check OCM’s website frequently

    • OCM updates FAQs throughout the process, currently without notice. You can tell when it was last updated by checking the date included in the link

  • Review prompts thoroughly - there may be some hidden information/requests

  • Don’t wait until the last minute, if possible

  • Save screenshots of your application and the application summary page before hitting submit as the “Application Summary” page only shows so much detail

  • If you receive an email from OCM asking for additional information, please be sure to respond in a timely fashion

Interested in applying for a New York cannabis business license? Don’t delay! VS has a track record of success and is ready to help you get started on initial preparation—including corporate formation, market research, real estate, and community benefits outreach—before applications are released. Contact our New York team today to get started.

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