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How to Start a Hemp Business in New York

Posted 1 month ago by GVB Biopharma Evidence Based

New York State is the epicenter of big business in the United States. Providing you know the right people, there’s no better place in the country to court investment and start a business.

The state of New York is well aware of its popularity, however, and it has taken to taxing business owners heavily. If you decide to set up shop with a hemp or cannabinoid business in New York, you’ll find that for every opportunity that appears, a new obstacle will crop up as well.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know to start a hemp business in New York.

New York cannabinoid law overview

– Hemp cultivation and CBD commerce are both legal in New York State
– The New York state legislature¹ echoed the 2018 Farm Bill with a 2019 law regulating hemp cultivation
– Not only does New York carefully regulate hemp cultivation within the state, but it’s one of only a very few jurisdictions to impose a CBD seller fee
– Every aspect of the hemp supply chain is heavily taxed in New York
– Seed sellers, growers, processors, and retailers must all submit separate applications and pay separate fees 
– Medical and adult-use cannabis are now fully legal in NY
– Provisions for in-home cannabis cultivation in NY are separate from those applicable to hemp agriculture
– Entrepreneurs involved in the NY hemp supply chain must properly register with the state or face potential felony charges

Can I sell CBD in New York?

Yes, it is legal to sell CBD in New York. The state imposes a $300-per-year “CBD seller license²,” which any business selling CBD must pay if they want to remain in operation.

If you are determined to be selling CBD without a license in NY, you may be given an opportunity to acquire a CBD seller license on the spot. Officials can just as easily slap you with fines, however, or even confiscate your entire cannabinoid inventory.

Is it legal to grow hemp in New York?

Yes, it is legal to grow hemp in New York State. To do so, entrepreneurs must successfully apply for Hemp Grower Licensing³ through the New York Department of Agriculture. Applicants must submit a $500 application fee and undergo an FBI background check as part of the process.

Do you need a license to grow hemp in New York?

Yes, licensing is strictly required to grow hemp in New York State, as it is everywhere else in the nation. NY is particularly zealous about its hemp permitting process, however, and will actively pursue any perceived violations of the state hemp code. Unauthorized cultivation of hemp in the state of New York could lead to felony cannabis charges.

New York hemp license process

The New York hemp licensing process is quite arcane. There are at least four different types of licensing available, and you may need all four depending on the scope of your operation. The state of New York also keeps related information scattered across multiple web pages, making it hard to navigate to the information relevant to your business. Below, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about each type of licensing offered:

What is a New York Hemp Seed Seller License?

Even hemp seed sellers need licenses in New York. They aren’t as costly to acquire as other types of licensing, though.

– Link:
– Price: $100 for three years
– Application: Downloadable PDF

What is a New York Hemp Grower License?

This is the main type of licensing hemp cultivators will need if they want to operate in New York State. It comes with a pricey upfront fee, but it lasts three years.

– Link:
– Price: $500 for three years
– Application: Downloadable PDF

What is a New York Hemp Processor License?

This type of licensing is required if you intend to process hemp that has already been cultivated. It is an additional requirement on top of the cultivation license if you intend to both cultivate and process him in New York State.

– Link:
– Price: $300 for two years plus a $100 licensing fee
– Application: Online form

What is a New York Cannabinoid Hemp Retailer License?

The NY Cannabinoid Hemp Retailer License, commonly known as a CBD seller license, is a requirement for any business seeking to sell cannabinoid products in the state of New York. In practical terms, licensing doesn’t do much to ensure the quality or safety of CBD products sold in New York State, but it does allow the state to keep track of CBD transactions and ensure that retailers are licensed to collect sales tax on behalf of the state treasury.

– Link:
– Price: $300 per year per retail location
– Application: Online form

Does New York have a good climate for hemp cultivation?

The climate in New York State is reasonably suitable for cultivation of all kinds. It is certainly not as ideal for hemp cultivation as more southerly locales like Virginia and the Carolinas, but with a proper understanding of the unique regional dynamics, it’s certainly possible to cultivate hemp in New York quite effectively.

With commercial space relatively inexpensive in NY since the pandemic, especially in outlying areas of the state, an indoor hemp cultivation operation may even be reasonable to consider. While there are certain tax considerations and licensing fees in New York, with the right strategies and planning, there’s significant potential for a thriving hemp business in the state.

How to start a hemp business in New York

The first step in the process of starting a hemp business in New York State is figuring out which type of licensing your business truly needs, a goal we hope we have assisted with by combining all relevant licensing information in one place. Depending on which components of the hemp cultivation and production process you want to take care of yourself, New York may apply any of the following licensing requirements and concomitant fees:

– A hemp seed seller license and fee
– A hemp cultivation license and fee
– A hemp processing license and fee
– A hemp retailer license and fee

If you were to acquire all of these licenses at once, the price would be $1,300. Some licenses stay valid for three years, others for two, and still others for just one year, making it inherently difficult to keep track of when it is time to renew each one.

Benefits of private labeling

The best way out of this confusion is to outsource at least some of the processes involved in producing and selling hemp to entities located outside New York State. As one of the only states in the nation to impose a fee on every single retailer hoping to sell any cannabinoid products whatsoever, there is simply no way around paying the state of New York at least some money per year if you want to sell hemp there.

You can avoid every other fee the state attempts to impose, however, by having your hemp grown and processed elsewhere. As long as your hemp concentrates arrive in a ready-to-mix form, the state will even unlikely be able to impose processing fees and related registration requirements.

The bottom line: Is starting a hemp business in New York a good idea?

The unavoidable truth is that New York is one of the most populous states in the nation, and its residents are unusually proud of their local state culture and economy. There are even plenty of New Yorkers who simply won’t trust anything unless it was made in New York State, paving the way for unique opportunities.

At the same time that the local culture is as welcoming as it could possibly be to hemp businesses, there is room for the government of New York to more fully echo this welcoming position. One example would be revisiting the licenses and fees that are required to operate a hemp business in New York, which are more burdensome than those imposed in other states.

Even California, which is known for its high taxes, is less strict in its licensing requirements for hemp cultivators and processors. And, as is also the case in California and every other state, hemp businesses in New York must pay all applicable business and income taxes on top of hemp licensing fees.

As long as you’re properly apprised, countervailing factors don’t have to be detractors when considering starting a hemp business in New York or launching any other endeavor. NYC has never been a place for the faint of heart, after all, and for entrepreneurs who muster enough courage, the wealth of the Big Apple is at your fingertips.

New York hemp business FAQs

Below, learn more about what it takes to run a hemp business in New York:

Can you grow hemp in New York State?

Yes, it is legal to grow hemp in New York State due to the 2018 Farm Bill. New York has, furthermore, passed its own piece of legislation supporting the hemp industry. Compared to other states, New York poses more challenges to hemp businesses — challenges that capable entrepreneurs will take in stride and transform into opportunities.

Do you need a license to grow hemp in NY?

Yes, it is necessary to acquire proper licensing to grow hemp in New York. Depending on the type of hemp commerce you intend to conduct, you may need to acquire up to four different kinds of licensing, some of which are renewed on a yearly basis. Scroll up in this article for a comprehensive database of hemp licensing information in New York State, complete with links to all relevant applications.

How do I get a license to grow hemp in NY?

The process of receiving licensing to grow hemp in New York is relatively straightforward, but it involves a few different steps, including:

– Submitting a completed PDF application
– An FBI background check for all “key participants”
– Maps and/or aerial photos detailing cultivation and storage locations

Once you have provided all the relevant submissions, the New York Department of Agriculture will consider your application and respond when it is ready.

How many hemp growers are in New York?

New York State is home to approximately 700 hemp cultivation operations. Considering the abundant cropland available in the upstate area, it’s clear that New York has far from reached the limit of its hemp cultivation capacity.


1. NY State Senate Bill 2019-S6184A. (n.d.).,of%20products%20and%20product%20labeling.

2. Retailers & distributors. (n.d.). Office of Cannabis Management.

3. Hemp grower licensing. (n.d.). Agriculture and Markets.

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