New York’s First Pot Sales Licenses Will Go to Those With Previous Marijuana Convictions

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It’s been said before, but New York is once again proving that it will become the new cannabis capital of the country with each step into legalization. 


The latest from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office: With retail dispensaries set to open in The Empire State by the end of the year, the first 100 to 200 licenses will go to New Yorkers with prior marijuana convictions. That’s before any of the big businesses chomping at the bit to enter the market.

The law that allows the possession and recreational use of marijuana by adults, which was passed last year, includes ensuring that half of all cannabis-related licenses, including those for growers and others in the supply chain, must be earmarked for women, minorities, distressed farmers, veterans, and those from communities “disproportionately impacted” by the war on drugs. Especially Black and Latino residents, who have been far more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges than white people. 

RELATED: What’s the State of Cannabis in the Empire State?

An unprecedented move for social equity

While it seems New York has been slow to get the retail side going, these moves are seen as calculated and mostly positive, especially from and for New Yorkers.

“We’re trying to do what no other state has done, and that’s focus on their people,” State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, an architect of the law, told the New York Times. “It’s critical because it’s a huge industry that’s going to grow our economy a lot, and I think it makes sense to let that growth begin with New Yorkers.”

Other states have made efforts towards equity in their markets, like California and New Jersey. But issues, like strict regulation, high taxes, a thriving black market for weed, and social equity candidates struggling to find capital to secure leases and open businesses, have created roadblocks.

RELATED: Governors Extol the Benefits of Weed In Their State Addresses

Start spreading the news

It’s clear New York wants to become the most diverse and inclusive in the country.

“We want to see an industry that’s big enough and broad enough for everyone to be involved,” Steve Hawkins, CEO of the U.S. Cannabis Council, told the Associated Press. “This effort is one that we certainly embrace and see as very meaningful, in terms of giving those individuals impacted by the war on drugs an opportunity to get started in what’s going to be a very significant market in New York state.”

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