Expected Delays in Cannabis Licensing
What to Expect when you are Expecting – A critical look into cannabis licensing timelines from submittal to award. Delays in Cannabis Licensing are common.
Typical Timelines for Cannabis Applications
What are the typical Delays in Cannabis Licensing from when an Applicant submits an application to the time the Applicant is awarded a permit? This article will discuss what to expect during the grading period and strategies Applicants can follow to optimize the waiting time.
Historical Delays in Cannabis Licensing
Timelines: No matter what the timelines published by the State are, Delays in Cannabis Licensing are very common. Try to practice patience, forgetting entirely about the submission and work on other areas within the Applicant’s control. The information below outlines six states that have delayed their deadlines for awarding permits to cultivation, manufacture, or dispense cannabis.
Illinois Adult-Use Dispensary Awarding | Round 1 = 7 days and counting
- Expected Deadline for Awarding New Cannabis Dispensary permits: April 30, 2020
- Actual date permit was Awarded: Extended to Unknown Date due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Arkansas Dispensary Submission – 490 days delayed
- Expected Deadline for Awarding Dispensary Permits: September 18, 2017
- Actual date Permit was Awarded: January 21, 2019
West Virginia Submission – Delayed for 250 days and counting
- Expected Deadline for Awarding Permits: July 1, 2019
- Actual date Permit was Awarded: Extended to Unknown Date due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Missouri Grower/ Processor / Dispensary Submission – Delayed for 27 days
- Expected Deadline for Awarding Permits: December 27, 2020
- Actual date Permit was Awarded: January 23, 2020
Maryland Grower / Processor Submission | Round 3 = Delayed for 163 days and Counting
- Expected Deadline for Awarding Permits: September 26, 2019 then October 7, 2019 then placed on Hold
- Actual date Permit was Awarded: On Hold due to temporary restraining order due to technical submission issues
New Jersey Grower/ Processor / Dispensary Submission | Round 3 = 66 Days and Counting
- Expected Deadline for Awarding Permits: December 2019 delayed to the Summer of 2020 due to File Corruption Issues
- Actual date Permit was Awarded: Unknown
Potential Reasons for Delays in Cannabis Licensing
After the submission, the Government reviews each application to ensure the Applicant provides all required documents. If an item of the application is missing, the Government will provide Applicants with a deficiency notice that gives the Applicant a short window to resubmit with all required items. Deficiency notices require publishing to the main point of contact, usually by mail and e-mail.
In almost 30% of submissions Quantum 9 has worked on, the State has made baseless deficiency claims. At first, the team assumed documents were missing or not submitted but then realized the issue was with corruption. Not the corruption one would expect, but that of technology. Below are three common issues causing delays in cannabis licensing in which the government requests information the Applicant has already submitted.
- File Corrupted – This can occur by one of the ancient dinosaur computers the State is working with to review the flash drive for completion. Uploading files to a state submission software such as Complia (Now NIC) or Accela can also cause corruption errors. Quantum 9 suggests always converting files to .pdf format before uploading documents. Also, make sure Applicants try to open the file or try downloading the file on a Mac and PC to ensure the files are readable.
- Page Corruption – Adobe products allow users to organize pages within a file. Users can add Microsoft Word, .pdf, and images (.jpeg) into the same file and then save the file to a single .pdf. During the saving process, files can cause conversion issues making some pages unreadable or corrupting the entire file. Many times, the State will request an entirely new file if a single page appears corrupted.
- User Error – Since some applications require the submittal of a flash drive, expect someone along the way to have inserted the flash drive into their computer, then pulled the flash drive out of the device without ejecting the flash drive properly. In most cases, this will not corrupt the file, but then again, States use terminals and devices that lack many of the flash drive protecting procedures now standard on most laptops.
Think of a deficiency as a good thing. As long as the Applicant monitors their emails, a deficiency means the submission grading is moving along. In most states, Applicants will have ten (10) to fourteen (14) days to respond to any deficiency, no matter how large.
Idle Hands: Idle hands are the devil’s playground. Applicants should engage a post-license project manager to handle everything from zoning to communicating with the State. However, there are many items that Applicants can focus on, such as branding, company messaging, and product development. If Applicants don’t want to build their brand, they can license one from an existing operator, which typically includes training.
In conclusion, expect delays. Between acts of God, lobbying pressure, technical issues, and State personnel issues, delays in cannabis licensing are now part of the process.