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New York restructures its cannabis licensing agency, leaving a Rochester business in limbo



Rochester, New York – A local applicant for a CAURD license has been waiting for approval for almost a year and a half, while New York has announced changes to the Office of Cannabis Management.

To open a dispensary, Jayson Tantalo and his spouse Britini have been waiting in line since 2022 for a Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license.

“Still pending,” said Tantalo. “We submitted our application at the end of September 2022.”

Tantalo stated that he has put around eighty-five thousand dollars into the company he is eager to launch.

“We started a program called leave-no-CAURD behind,” said Tantalo. “There are probably 100-plus people still waiting for their licenses including me and my wife.”

On Friday, May 10, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a reorganization of the Office of Cannabis Management to enhance the retail adult-use application procedure and the regulatory body’s general effectiveness.

“We’re going to unclog the licensing bottleneck and immediately review hundreds of applicants who’ve simply been waiting for an answer,” said Hochul. “Applicants who are required to apply with a lease, a paid-for lease, are still paying rent, hoping their license comes through. We’re going to streamline the application process, assign each application one point person and shepherd through the process, communicate with the applicant, and ensure that applying is as open, transparent, and painless as possible…we’re going to transform OCM itself. It’s past time for OCM to move from a startup mode into a fully operational regulatory agency – one with stronger internal controls and a reconceived organizational structure. We’re going to prioritize hiring and training new staff capable of strengthening key agency operations, and fill senior roles focused on agency operations, customer service, and internal controls.

Hochul listed a state-wide task force as one of her top goals, and she stated that the New York State Police will take the lead in it starting on Monday, May 13. According to Hochul, the task force would work with OCM enforcement and try to shut down as many illegal establishments as it can in its first ninety days.

Tantalo and other aspirants are merely waiting for the moment.

“Many people like myself financially are on the verge of collapse,” said Tantalo. “We thought we had a good grip on the situation not knowing that two weeks later, the lawsuit would happen with the first injunction, and that kind of paused us and the entire state for six months. What this program has done to applicants like myself has completely deteriorated any financial grips or gains. I thought if I submitted my lease by the November queue deadline we would get a license. That’s basically how they made it seem. We’ve been holding that lease since October and we’re still waiting. We’re in jeopardy of losing that lease and hoping we can do business in that location.”