As many familiar with the current status and issues facing New York State cannabis and specifically the conditional adult use retail dispensary (“CAURD”) licenses know, there are a multitude of problems that CAURD Licensees are facing and some of them are fed up. To that extent, on May 9, 2023, at least eight (8) CAURD Licensees sent an open letter to the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (“DASNY”), the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) and the Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”) voicing their concerns in the hopes of getting a meeting with those authorities to iron out some issues that have arisen since the awarding of their respective CAURD licenses.
Issues faced by CAURD licensees
Below is a non-exhaustive summary of some of the issues raised in the letter at issue. This summary is representative of some of the challenges the CAURD licensees are facing.
One of the biggest challenges for CAURD Licensees is finding and building out their retail space. DASNY can reject proposed locations based on information only they have access to, without any independent oversight. DASNY while being tasked with securing locations for the CAURD licensees is also the same governmental agency approving locations for licensees opting to not participate in its location assignment initiative. Such a system provides DASNY with an effective monopoly over where the Licensees can rent space or operate. Even though the OCM has allowed licensees to secure their own location, licensees still must compete with DASNY, which has more leverage and power in the real estate market.
Moreover, DASNY has been painfully slow to respond, if at all, to site plan approvals or provide any insight into the process or financial terms for the leased spaces. Upon acceptance of a dispensary location, Licensees are then forced to use contractors identified by DASNY and are provided with no insight into the scope of buildouts, nor the details of budgeting for the buildout costs they will be responsible for paying over the term of the lease. It is said that these contractors are quoting well above market prices and the Licensees have no ability to negotiate these costs.
The only real estate options made available by the Fund seem to have extremely high rents, where success is not possible given the slow early adoption of legal retail shops in opposition to the many illicit alternatives
Incredibly, the governmental entities are asking CAURD licensees to agree to leases referencing financing agreements without ever being provided with those financing agreements. It is common sense that no diligent and responsible business owner can be expected to sign a contract under these conditions.
What’s next for CAURD?
We sincerely hope DASNY, OCM and CCB take the concerns identified in the May 9 letter seriously. We’ve been following many of these issues on the blog for a while now, and we have been dealing with them on behalf of clients from here in our New York office.
For more general information on New York cannabis program timelines, including rules and licensing, see our summary of CCB’s meeting last week here.