Rochester Firm Trapped in Limbo as New York Revamps Cannabis Licencing Agency

A person who applied for a local CAURD licence has been waiting for over a year and a half to get approval. Meanwhile, New York has announced changes to the Office of Cannabis Management.

Since 2022, Jayson Tantalo and his wife Britini have been waiting in a long queue of applicants for a Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licence to open a dispensary.

“It’s still waiting,” said Tantalo. “We turned in our application in September 2022, towards the end of the month.” Tantalo said he has put almost $85,000 into the business that he is eagerly waiting to open.

“We began a programme called leave-no-CAURD behind,” Tantalo said. “There are more than 100 people, including me and my wife, who are still waiting for their licences.”

On Friday, May 10, Governor Kathy Hochul announced changes to the Office of Cannabis Management. The goal is to make the process of applying for adult-use retail licences easier and to improve the overall efficiency of the regulatory agency.

“We will fix the problem of delayed licencing and promptly review the applications of many individuals who have been waiting for a response,” stated Hochul. “Applicants who need to apply with a lease that has been paid for are still paying rent while waiting for their licence to be approved.” We will make the application process more efficient by assigning a dedicated person to each application. This person will guide the applicant through the process, communicate with them, and ensure that applying is easy and transparent.

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We are going to change OCM itself. OCM needs to transition from being a startup to becoming a fully functioning regulatory agency. This means implementing better internal controls and rethinking the organisational structure. We will focus on hiring and training new staff who can improve important agency tasks. We will also fill senior positions that are responsible for agency operations, customer service, and internal controls.

Hochul’s main focus is to establish a task force that will operate throughout the entire state. She mentioned that the New York State Police will take charge of this task force starting on Monday, May 13th. The task force will work together with OCM enforcement. According to Hochul, their goal is to shut down as many illegal stores as they can within the first 90 days.

Right now, applicants like Tantalo are just waiting.

“A lot of people, including myself, are facing financial collapse,” said Tantalo. “At the time, we believed we understood the situation well. However, we were unaware that two weeks later, a lawsuit would be filed and an injunction would be issued. This unexpected event caused a pause in our progress and affected the entire state for six months.” This programme has caused significant financial losses for applicants like me.

I believed that if I submitted my lease before the November deadline, we would receive a licence. That’s how they portrayed it. We have had that lease since October and we are still waiting. We might lose the lease and we want to continue doing business in that location.

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