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Many New Yorkers are eagerly waiting to buy legal cannabis for adults once the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) gives the green light. I’ve seen it many times, in Colorado and Massachusetts: anticipation, friendship, exhaustion, the simultaneous annoyance of rising prices due to taxes and waiting online on the first day of selling legal cannabis.

But do consumers really know what the first 200 retail dispensaries across New York will look like? Well, look to our north Tres Shake Neighbor, Montreal, government-run stores.

Following the April 9 New York State (NYS) budget bill, which provided $50 million in public funds and statutory powers to the New York State Board of Housing (DASNY) authority, NYS has published a Request for Proposal, expiring on June 13, for contractors to provide “ready-to-use” dispensaries Fully furnished and fully equipped with POS systems, security, safes, cameras, bathrooms, offices, etc. For those who envision funky, innovative, and one-of-a-kind stores, DASNY will likely offer these top 200 dispensaries fairly likely to offer uniforms inside and out, with the exception of the so-called “brand wall” for licensees to get creative with.

Retail details

DASNY’s May 13 Design and build services for a selection of retail cannabis dispensaries Request for Proposal RFP #7586 Offers a peek at the first 200 retail dispensaries used for adults in NYS.

In accordance with the RFP (Request for Proposal), DASNY will act as an agent for the New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, LP (NYSECIF) to identify suitable commercial retail properties for dispensaries, and to design and equip these rental premises based on upcoming retail dispensary insurance systems. NYSECIF will then sub-lease these properties to mainstream retail license applicants to operate. Prevailing bidders must be selected by July 11 to begin designing and building cannabis dispensaries across New York State.

These dispensaries will be “fairly distributed across” 10 geographic regions throughout New York State, according to NYSECIF, with New York City being the No. 1 region. DASNY” expects[s] that approximately 150 dispensaries would need to be completed across the state, “with the largest concentration in the New York metropolitan area, including Long Island and Westchester. Rough estimates in other parts of the state include 20-25 in western New York, 15-20 in the Valley region Hudson/Capital region, 5 to 10 in the northern country, and 5 to 10 in the southern tier region.”

Interestingly, DASNY’s RFP envisions 3,000-5,000-square-foot dispensaries to be built by various regional contractors, who will also handle all filing, permitting, licensing and regulatory approval responsibilities. (It’s hard to imagine DASNY securing 3,000 square feet of retail space in New York City’s major business lanes!). Contractors will design and install security camera systems and systems compliant with upcoming security regulations, as well as “furnish and equip” dispensaries.

Building systems

This RFP provides for those considering applying for Round Two/Private Equity Retail licenses, the general requirements for such state-established stores. For the sales area, the reception area may be closed or open, and the check-in area may be separate or combined with the reception area, depending on the location. Dispensaries may also have an open sales floor and display area, including a prominent ‘brand wall’, with a sales counter and service space allowing for ‘approximately 5-10 areas and/or point of sale kiosks’.

This RFP also describes the prevailing contractor setting up a “back home” area for employees to “transport, process, package and fulfill customer orders and merchandise,” as well as a receiving area and “cannabis processing workroom.” Other requirements include a safe vault and/or storage; Waste storage for “quarantine / safe”; office space and staff lounge; bathrooms accessible to employees and clients; Concierge and electrical/data/security locker. The RFP asks for a floor plan and layout to “allow the best payments and flow of customers/visitors with a sense of invitation and personality.”

Security requirements

Dispensaries will require indoor and outdoor video surveillance, access controls, and intrusion systems, while adhering to security plans Health Security Requirements for the New York State Department. These include alarms and backup alarms; motion detectors; video cameras with 24-hour recording (9600 dpi) and date/time stamp; panic button at the sales counter; glass break sensors automatic voice dialer or digital dialer; Failure notification system “Ability to continue to operate during power failure”; Maintain all equipment and security recordings in a secure restricted location; Exterior Illuminated Doors with Hinged No Pins and Secure Network Access.

A tarp (Vault) shall have walls and ceiling framed with heavy-gauge metal rivets and joists with 9-gauge extended metal mesh attached to the unsecured side of the frame with tamper-proof anchors.

Exterior windows must meet all requirements of current New York/NY building codes to conserve energy and include laminated glass treated with a safety film to prevent the glass from falling, should it break.

Additional enhanced security measures may be required in certain areas, such as New York City, where privacy screenings, safety rolling gates, and the use of ballistic glass may be required.

odor relief Systems with ventilation and filtration systems may be required to mitigate cannabis odor in certain areas.

HVAC systems and backup power (battery or generator) will be required during a power outage to provide continuous power for access control for secure doors, 24/7 remote alarm, camera monitoring and recording systems, preferably HVAC conditioning for IT/Data room and Vault stations And POS too.

Ready-to-hand over building for the first 200 retail dispensaries

DASNY will build NYSECIF contractors’ interiors, from floors to “brand wall,” according to the RFP, along with ATMs, furnishings, fixtures, equipment, and Point of Sale (POS) systems, for the first 200 licensees. The entire store will also be connected, either through WiFi or LAN wires, to point-of-sale, seed-to-sale tracking system and security systems. Essentially, DASNY will connect the entire dispensary.

New York has radically redefined social justice with the launch of new retail dispensaries for adults. As any operator knows, starting a successful retail cannabis business requires a tremendous amount of research, time, knowledge, relationships, understanding contracts, commercial leases and most importantly, seed capital. By eliminating the knowledge gap, securing commercial property, and countering needed equipment, New York has doubled down on its commitment to ensuring that those with previous convictions for cannabis (or their immediate family members) have a fair and equal chance of success. (The first 200 CAURD licenses will be granted to applicants who have been convicted of a cannabis conviction in New York State, or an immediate family member has been convicted, and who meet the applicant’s other requirements.)

This radical commitment to economic justice and equity is sure to anger many naysayers and detractors, but at its core, those left financially and personally devastated by cannabis convictions may have a fair chance at rebuilding their lives.

Wei Hu, Esq. , is the founding partner of MRTA Law, PC, a New York-based cannabis law practice with offices in Manhattan and Ulster County. as he knows Social and economic justice in cannabis at LIM College in New York City, and is a member of the NYS Cannabis Industry Association.


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