New York Will Issue First Adult-Use Dispensary Licenses to Applicants with Cannabis-Related Convictions

New York officials offered more details on their plans to address social equity in the state’s forthcoming adult-use cannabis market March 9, when they announced that the state will issue its first adult-use dispensary licenses to applicants with cannabis-related convictions.

Those affected by the war on drugs will get access to the first 100 to 200 cannabis retail licenses in the state, according to the Associated Press.

Some of these initial licenses will be awarded to nonprofits or businesses led by someone with a prior cannabis-related conviction, the news outlet reported, while others will go to applicants with a parent, legal guardian, child or spouse who has been convicted of a cannabis-related offense.

Convictions must have taken place before March 31, 2021, when former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization bill into law, AP reported.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul plans to announce additional regulations governing the state’s “social equity” applicants March 10, according to the news outlet, and the rules must then be approved by the state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) before they can take effect.

The plan to give applicants with cannabis-related convictions first dibs on dispensary licenses is the latest of New York’s proposed social equity initiatives, which also include a $200 million fund meant to support social equity cannabis businesses.

State officials have also announced that 50% of New York’s total adult-use cannabis licenses will go to social equity applicants, AP reported.

New York also plans to prioritize the state’s existing hemp operators in its adult-use licensing process; Hochul signed legislation last month that allows hemp farmers to apply for conditional licenses to grow cannabis for the adult-use market during the 2022 growing season.

It is unclear how many total adult-use licenses the state plans to issue, as well as a timeline for the licensing process.

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