New Yorkers With Cannabis Convictions Will Get First Retail Licenses

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As New York gets ready for recreational cannabis sales and prepares to open up its first dispensaries by the end of 2022.

The state’s Cannabis Control Board has approved and passed a bill last month that will allow New Yorkers with convictions related to cannabis to be eligible for a retail/cultivation license, who will be among some of the first!

The new legislation also provides existing hemp farmers in New York with the opportunity to apply for a license to grow in the 2022 season. If you are currently own and operate a hemp farm in New York and you want to apply for a license, you can do so here.

Mr. Alexander said he expected between 100 and 200 licenses to go to people who were convicted of a marijuana-related offense before the drug was legalized, or those who have “a parent, guardian, child, spouse, or dependent” with a marijuana conviction.

“I am proud to sign this bill, which positions New York’s farmers to be the first to grow cannabis and jumpstart the safe, equitable and inclusive new industry we are building,” Governor Hochul said. “New York State will continue to lead the way in delivering on our commitment to bring economic opportunity and growth to every New Yorker in every corner of our great state.”   

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“I could press the green button right now and have 40 dispensaries online,” said Mr. Alexander, speaking of the state’s extant medical dispensaries. “But instead we’ve decided that the folks who have been most impacted actually have the space and the real runway to participate in a meaningful way.”

Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the policy, which is what she calls the Seeding Opportunity Initiative, is an effort to make sure communities that have been impacted the most by marijuana prohibition have a head start in the state’s multi-billion-dollar industry. Most states that have legalized marijuana have banned people with drug felonies from entering the legal market.

The state also hopes that some in the existing black market — sometimes known as “legacy” candidates — may be persuaded to apply for licenses instead because some could be considered equity applicants.

Chris Alexander is the executive director of the state’s Office of Cannabis Management.

He also went on to say that he expects the first handful of dispensaries to be opened by the end of 2022. The state has not set a limit on the available amount of retail licenses for the time being, officials said it all depends on market demands.

You can read more on the bill and changes, here.

Photo by Florian Wehde

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