Legal Cannabis in Rochester

Business license applications for cannabis dispensaries are NOT currently being accepted due to an injunction on State licenses impacting the Finger Lakes Region. 

The Marijuana and Taxation Act (MRTA) was signed into law on March 31, 2021 legalizing adult use cannabis in the State of New York. The City of Rochester opted-in to the full cannabis industry to maximize the economic opportunities and to join the State’s efforts to address the harm caused by the war on drugs.

The State law provides the framework for licensing. The State is currently developing regulations to further define the licensing process and requirements for cannabis businesses. Additionally, the State allows cities to regulate the “time, place, and manner” of dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges. Accordingly, the City has developed local cannabis policy.

What types of businesses will be licensed? 

  • Cultivator
  • Processor
  • Distributor
  • Dispensary
  • On-Site Consumption
  • Delivery
  • Nursery
  • Microbusiness (includes all phases from seed to sale)
  • Cooperative (includes all phases except dispensing)
How do I learn more about applying for a license?  How do I stay up-to-date as the State develops regulations?

The State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) is the agency that licenses cannabis businesses to grow and sell cannabis in New York. OCM is also responsible for drafting the State’s cannabis business regulations. For more information about licensing, see OCM's licensing webpageThe Cannabis Control Board is the decision-making body for cannabis licensing and regulations and meets once per month. To stay informed about upcoming application windows and regulations for the various business types, visit the Cannabis Control Board webpage. There, you can check for upcoming Cannabis Control Board meetings, watch past meetings, and/or subscribe to email notifications. 

If you need assistance with other general business preparation, contact the Central Library Business Insight Center; staff have specific knowledge of the cannabis industry.

How do I learn about the City’s local cannabis policy?  What outreach did the City conduct to develop the policy?

  • The City's zoning and regulations for cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges were approved at City Council Committee on November 3, 2021. You can find the approved legislation here. The City Council transmittal is here and supplemental resources are here
  • Visit the City's draft map of zoning districts to allow dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges here. Keep in mind, the map includes preliminary sensitive use buffers - the list of sensitive uses needs to be further developed.
  • City Council convened a Work Session on August 18, 2022, to discuss proposed zoning and regulations for dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges. Watch the recording of the Work Session here>>
  • The City, Central Library Business Insight Center and the Workforce Development Institute presented a cannabis workforce development event on October 19, 2022, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Kate Gleason Auditorium in the Central Library. 
  • The City partnered with the Central Library Business Insight Center to hold a Cannabis Industry Support Open House on July 13, 2022. 
  • The City held three community meetings to discuss ideas for zoning and local regulation of cannabis businesses on May 25 (Arnett Library), May 31 (Gantt R-Center) and June 2, 2022 (virtual). Watch the recording of the June 2 meeting here>> You can find the slide deck from that meeting here >>
  • Watch the Cannabis Information and Listening Session held on Thursday, April 14, 2022 >>
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  •  Email with your questions
  •  Submit comments >>

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