MSOs Not Rushing to Open New York Retail Shops

PharmaCann is the only medical operator to open a co-located store in the state.

Although six marijuana multistate operators got the thumbs up from New York regulators last month to open retail shops, thus far only one has done so, potentially indicating that the companies are deprioritizing retail in the state in favor of the wholesale market.

A spokesman for the New York Office of Cannabis Management confirmed that as of Jan. 5, only Chicago-based PharmaCann had paid the required $5 million retail license fee and opened a joint medical-recreational location in Albany, which does business as Verilife. That store opened on the first possible day: Dec. 29, according to a report in WNYT.

The Verilife store is one of just 46 statewide that, as of Jan. 5, were open for business to adult-use customers in New York.

The other five MSO’s that are eligible to open dual medical-recreational shops include:

  • Columbia Care NY LLC, which is part of The Cannabis Co. (NEO: CBST) (OTCQX: CBSTF)
  • Curaleaf NY LLC (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF)
  • Etain LLC, which is owned by Riv Capital (CSE: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF)
  • NYCANNA LLC, which is owned by Acreage Holdings Inc. (CSE: ACRG.A.U) (OTCQX: ACRHF)
  • Valley Agriceuticals LLC, which is owned by Cresco Labs (CSE: CL) (OTCQX: CRLBF)

Each of those will also have to fork over $5 million to the state prior to opening new adult-use cannabis retail locations, but it’s not clear when they may actually do so. Each retail licensee – including the multistate operators – will ultimately be allowed three locations.

One MSO staffer who spoke anonymously to Green Market Report said simply that the $5 million license fee makes the New York retail market far less appealing, given the widespread proliferation of illicit shops, of which there are an estimated 8,000 in New York City alone.

“The juice isn’t worth the squeeze,” the staffer said, suggesting that many of the MSOs may wait to see if New York can get a handle on its illicit market before investing millions more into the state.

A spokesperson for Curaleaf said in an email that “plans are underway for Curaleaf’s Newburgh dispensary in Hudson Valley to open for adult use later this month, pending regulatory approval.”

The spokesperson declined to specify on what regulatory approval the company is waiting, but the move is a bit of a change in strategy from what CEO Matt Darin predicted to Green Market Report last month, when he said the company was expecting to launch recreational sales “right around” Dec. 29. Darin also noted that wholesaling would begin as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for Acreage Holdings wrote in an email that the MSO “is focusing on adult-use wholesale operations. Any update on adult-use retail operations will be announced via press release.”

Spokespeople for The Cannabist Co., Cresco Labs, and Riv Capital did not respond to requests for comment.

The Cannabist Co., however, said in a press release last month that while it doesn’t have an opening date for retail operations in New York, that wholesale sales “will commence immediately.” Retail sales, it noted, could simply “begin at a later date upon payment of the required fees.”

Riv Capital also said in a December release that it “anticipates opening” its first recreational shops in “early 2024,” followed by the second and third shops “on or around July 1, 2024.”

Two other licensed medical marijuana companies in New York that have applied for transition into the recreational market – Green Thumb Industries and iAnthus Capital Holdings – were rebuffed late last month by regulators and will have to wait for formal approval before they can start adult-use sales.

The final two of New York’s 10 medical cohort – MedMen Enterprises and Vireo Health International – have not even come up for a vote to transition to the recreational market in New York, and it’s unclear if those two companies have even applied.

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.

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