New York State began accepting applications to open its first legal recreational marijuana store on Thursday, taking a new approach to keeping the first 150 or so retail dispensary licenses for people with previous convictions. marijuana or their relatives.
The application process is a key step in opening one of the nation’s most anticipated legal marijuana markets, but there is no specific date for when sales will begin. Outside of California, New York is the most populous of the 19 US states that have legalized the possession and use of marijuana by adults.
New York officials have stressed they want to ensure the new industry provides opportunity for those bearing the brunt of the fight against drugs, which falls disproportionately on blacks and Latinos.
The state announced this winter that the first round of marijuana retail licenses will be awarded to businesses and nonprofits whose leaders have been convicted of or have a close relationship with marijuana offenses.
It’s “a unique strategy we’re implementing to ensure those most affected have a real opportunity to get involved,” said Chris Alexander, executive director of the state’s Office of Cannabis Regulatory Affairs, during a briefing. a virtual press conference.
“It’s really a typo,” he added.
The first set of licensing requirements also includes experience running a profitable business for at least two years.
Other potential dispensary owners may apply at a later date, with a focus on people of color, women, struggling farmers, disabled veterans and people from communities heavily controlled by police.
New York aims to provide these applicants with 50% of their total licenses. The state has also committed to a $200 million fund to provide them with start-up grants, loans, and other assistance.