Cannabis Regulations

New York State passed the Marijuana and Taxation Act (MRTA) and it was signed into law on March 31, 2021, legalizing adult use  cannabis (21+) in the State of New York. Only businesses licensed by the New York Office of Cannabis Management can sell adult use cannabis. All cannabis related licenses are issued by NYS and the Office of Cannabis Management and not by the City of Albany.

For an overview of the process to obtain an Adult-Use Retail Dispensary License from the Office of Cannabis Management please see the following resources below:

What Approvals are Required by the City of Albany to Operate a Dispensary?

  1. Once the process is initiated with NYS Office of Cannabis Management, an applicant will file a “Notice to Municipalities” with Albany’s City Clerk (24 Eagle St, Room 202, Albany, NY 12207). The City Clerk will circulate the notice of intent to operate to various city departments for comment. After review the City Clerk will issue a letter in support or a letter objecting to the site, detailing concerns to the applicant and OCM for consideration.
    • Please note, if there are any outstanding code violations associated with the proposed address it may impede your ability to have the address approved until these items are addressed.  The property needs to be in full compliance to proceed. To see if there are any open violations/issues at a property you may check on our Citizens Self Service Portal.
  2. The applicant must then receive approval by NYS Office of Cannabis Management to operate at the location that was provided to the city. 
  3. Once OCM has approved an applicant’s location, a General Building Permit/Change of Use must be applied for with the Department of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance.
  4. Upon completion of any proposed work (per an approved Building Permit) a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance will be required prior to the operation and opening of any business. 

What Information is Required to Obtain a Building Permit to Open a Cannabis Dispensary?

  1. A General Building Permit Application will need to be applied for with the Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance.  This will include either a Change of Use or a Change of Tenant
  2. If it is a Change of Use (i.e. the previous use of the space was a Hair Salon and you are proposing a dispensary), your application will be reviewed for the Zoning Use and if approved there may be work required by the NYS Building Code.  Your Building Inspector will discuss these requirements upon approval of the Zoning Use.
  3. In either case detailed floor plans are required showing the dimensions of the space and all exits and room breakdowns.  In some cases, detailed plans from a NYS Licensed Architect or Engineer may be required depending on the scope of work to be done.
  4. Any signage will require a Sign Permit Application for each sign.  Sign Permit Applications will only be reviewed and approved after the Building Permit is issued.  All applications must include a sketch of the sign with colors and dimensions shown.
  5.  Once you have obtained your Building Permit and all work has been completed, inspected and passed, a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued by the Department of Buildings & Regulatory Compliance.  Until such time as this Certificate has been issued your business may not open or operate.

Where Can I Operate a Cannabis Dispensary?

  • To determine where a cannabis dispensary may be permitted, please use our interactive map below. This map displays areas where dispensaries are permitted.  
    • Blue: Permitted (as-of-right)
    • Yellow: Conditional Use Permit must be obtained via the Planning Board
    • Purple:  Accessory use only (must be secondary to another use on site)
  • Under NYS law, no cannabis dispensary shall be located on the same road and within 200 feet of the entrance to a house of worship or 500 feet of the entrance to a school. Disclaimer: while the map shows the locations of schools and houses of worship they are only for approximation and do not necessarily reflect all schools or houses of worship. Determination of appropriate distancing will be made by the Office of Cannabis Management.
  • Cannabis dispensaries must also be a minimum of 1,000 feet away from another cannabis dispensary. 
  • To view the City's Permitted Use Table please click here.

How do I Apply for a Cannabis Related License?

The City of Albany does not issue any licenses related to cannabis. Please visit the NYS Office of Cannabis Management licensing webpage here.

Where Can I Consume Cannabis?

Cannabis can be consumed anywhere that tobacco can be smoked or vaporized. The only exception to this rule is that cannabis use is not allowed in motor vehicles even when parked. Cannabis cannot be consumed in City of Albany Parks, within 500 feet of a school, and within 200 feet of a house-of-worship.

How do I Report a Complaint Related to Cannabis?

  • The following types of complaints are sent directly to NYS through the Incident Report Form:
    • Concern about a cannabis business which includes businesses that sell cannabis products including unlicensed business locations, sales to a minor or consumption in unauthorized areas, or a concern regarding a cannabis product, such as product safety, product mislabeling, product formulation or product expiration date, or an adverse health event which includes any troublesome or undesired medical occurrence or symptom associated with the use of a cannabis product.

Additional Resources Provided by the Office of Cannabis Management:

City of Albany Cannabis Advisory Committee: