Legal Cannabis in Rochester

Alert! The City, Central Library Business Insight Center, The Rochester Urban League and the Workforce Development Institute are presenting a cannabis workforce development event on Wednesday, October 19 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Kate Gleason Auditorium in the Central Library. For more information and to register, click here>>.

The Marihuana 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 begun the process of developing 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 draft 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 get involved or stay up-to-date with the City’s development of local cannabis policy?

The City is now engaged in outreach about cannabis businesses: 

  • The City's draft zoning and regulations for cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges will be at City Council Committee on 10/13 and at City Council on 10/18. You can find the City Council transmittal here, the draft legislation here and supplemental resources here. If you are interested in attending either the Committee or full City Council meeting, visit this City webpage for instructions. There will be opportunities for public comment at both meetings.
  • Visit the City's map of zoning districts proposed 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 and the State needs to provide direction on whether the distancing will be measured from the lot line or the primary entrance.
  • City Council convened a Work Session on 8/18/22 to discuss proposed zoning and regulations for dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges. Watch the recording of the Work Session here>>
  • 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 (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 >>
  •  Subscribe to our email updates >>
  •  Email heather.anderson@cityofrochester.gov with your questions
  •  Submit comments >>

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