Tuesday, November 7, 2023

A primer on Community Board 3's role in the permit process for legal cannabis shops

Photo and reporting by Stacie Joy
50 Avenue A, home to a proposed new cannabis-related business

If you follow the monthly Community Board 3 meetings list, you likely noticed a new category — the Cannabis Control Task Force.

On Oct. 4, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) opened up AU, or Adult Usage, licensing and permitting to sell cannabis in retail stores in NYC to the public. 

As The City noted: "Under the state's 2021 law, a retail applicant must notify their local community board at least 30 days before submitting their application to the state and identify their proposed business location. But that provision was barely noticed until now because retail licenses had previously been limited to justice-impacted individuals whose store locations were provided by the state."

Now, community boards, including CB3, get the applications first. The local boards are tasked with providing recommendations for new licenses, and according to published reports, they are being overwhelmed by the process.

In November, the CB3 task force is meeting on two evenings — Nov. 9 (at the Houston Street Center, Double Classrooms 2 & 3 — 273 Bowery) and Nov. 13 (The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St.).

With 20-plus applicants on the docket this month, we asked CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer questions about the process and the community and the Board's role in the applications.

"This process is labor intensive, and we are not receiving much guidance from the state," Stetzer said. "We've requested a 30-day extension for each application, as we won't have time to complete each one within the State's required 30-day turnaround period. No one has sat down with us to ask us what we need."

The following responses were condensed for length and clarity.

Why are so many cannabis applications now going before the Community Board? 

OCM has a three-month window for applications right now, and it's a lottery system, so maybe there is a rush and some multiple applications. Also, there is a minimum 1,000-feet-apart rule, so once one location is pulled, no one else nearby can be accepted. Since this is a lottery system, it's not drawn in order of application.

Is this a similar role to liquor licenses? 

No, we wish it were! The State Liquor Authority application process has been honed, streamlined, and refined over the years. For example, the applications have landlord, contact names, and phone numbers listed, and these do not. So we don't have a direct contact. And we don't have much in the way of guidance. 

And why are there so many cannabis applicants?

We have an easier time of it. Community Board 2 [which covers Soho, Noho, Greenwich Village, and the West Village] has 70 applicants, and another Community Board has 90 applicants. 

Will this be a monthly process? 

This will last for three months as there is a three-month window for applicants to apply to OCM.

Is CB3 going to form a new committee for this? 

This newly formed committee has previously heard Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries licensing; these new applications are for adult recreational usage. 

What part does the Community Board play in this new field? 

 We don’t know! 

What are the presentations that the applicants put together? 

The questionnaires are posted on the CB3 website [link here] so people can read them and attend the meetings to ask questions. 

Why are there two separate groups/dates/locations? 

They are grouped by location — east and west sides of the CB3 area. We did this to make it easier for the residents who live in those areas.

Does order of appearance have any significance? 

No. Mostly, they were grouped by address, but the order of appearance can change. We try to accommodate people's schedules, which can change at the last minute and lead to order shuffling. 

What part does restorative justice play in these applications? 

None. This is separate from CAURD justice-impacted licensing. 

Why are there multiple license requests from the same listed address? 

Not sure. The rules don't specify anything about location or lease before coming to the community board.

Are these in-person meetings only? No zoom access? 

 The locations available don't have hybrid services. No resources or equipment for Zoom. One has a cut-off time of 9:30 p.m. and the other 10:30 p.m., so we hope we can get to all the applicants listed.  


You can join CB3's mailing list via this link.


Anonymous said...

Why this entire process wasn't handled by the State Liquor Authority with rules and terms modified for the Cannabis industry is beyond me.
The CAURD justice-impacted licensing idea was a total flop. The rollout was a disaster, and now, it has been dumped lock stock and barrel on the local government.

A real sh*tshow.

Anonymous said...

Please consider how close these shops are to schools - the many illegal ones in the area sell to children! If and when the illegal shops are closed it would be nice to have more discretion and determination about where shops are located.

Anonymous said...

If CB3 was smart, they would reject every single one of them until the process benefits the community and the so-called loopholes are countered

Anonymous said...

It might be a good idea to wait until ALL the illegal shops have been CLOSED before we even begin the process of approving legal shops. I don't even know how anyone applying can actually BE 1000 feet away from another weed shop since it seems like there's literally one even 1000 feet in this neighborhood. A shitshow, indeed.

Sarah said...

"the applications have landlord, contact names, and phone numbers listed, and these do not."

This...makes no sense.

As noted, we already have a process for handling liquor stores, why couldn't that be modified appropriately and used for cannabis stores? What a ****show.

Anonymous said...

Why are so many of these legal shops in the same neighborhood? It makes no sense in light of their supposed eye on "equity". The city needs to spread the wealth around to different parts of the city.

mvd said...

The licensed places seem pretty diligent about checking IDs, at least at this early stage, so I am not sure if having one on the same block as a school world be any more problematic than having a liquor store or bar on that block

Anonymous said...

Fear not Susan Stetzer et al, this location is within 500 feet of a school and therefore not allowed. Pay close attention to this rule, it is 500 feet property line to property line not door to door.

Anonymous said...

I live above a pretty rowdy pot shop. I agree that that should be a fair distance from schools and playgrounds. It was a bit of a shock to see the line of very little kids in costumes on Halloween, accompanied by adults, going in for candy. So maybe to parents in the neighborhood they see it differently? No judgement of the workers in the shop or any adult who smokes but definitely something parents might want to rethink especially when the gummies are packaged identical to real candy.

Andy said...

Looks like Parkside on Houston has an application in. I hope it's "in addition to" and not "instead of".
Also an interesting mention about 80 St Marks opening back up as a theater in that questionnaire.