New York starts taking requests to sell recreational pot
ALBANY, NY – New York State began accepting applications Thursday to open its first legal recreational pot stores, taking a new approach by reserving the first 150 or so retail dispensary licenses for people who have already been sentenced persons or their relatives.
The application process is a key step towards opening one of the most anticipated legal cannabis markets in the country, but there is no exact date yet for when sales will begin. With the exception of California, New York is the most populous of the 19 US states that have legalized the possession and use of marijuana for adults.
New York officials stressed they wanted to ensure the new industry provides opportunities for people who have borne the brunt of drug law enforcement, which has disproportionately affected black and the Latinos.
The state announced this winter that the first round of cannabis retail licenses would go to businesses and nonprofit groups with a leader who has been convicted of a marijuana offense or has a close relative who the summer.
This is a “unique strategy that we are implementing to try to ensure that those most affected have a real opportunity to participate here,” said the executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management of the State, Chris Alexander, during a virtual press conference.
“It’s really about writing a wrong,” he added.
First-round licensing requirements also include experience running a business that has been profitable for at least two years.
Other potential dispensary owners may apply later, with a focus on people of color, women, struggling farmers, disabled veterans and people from communities that have endured heavy pot policing.
New York aims to provide 50% of its total licenses to these applicants. The state has also pledged to create a $200 million fund for seed grants, loans and other assistance for them.