New York Cannabis Retail Licenses will be Reserved for Social Equity Applicants

New York Cannabis Retail Licenses - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

In an eagerly anticipated announcement by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New Yorkers now have clarity on who will be the recipients of the first wave of cannabis retail licenses.

Within a welcomed address on Thursday, Hochul stated that the first licenses for retail outlets will be reserved for applicants with previous cannabis-related convictions.

Why will cannabis retail licenses in New York be reserved for people with convictions?

For decades, the communities that have been hit hardest by the ‘War on Drugs’ and police enforcement have been BIPOC.

Despite similar rates of cannabis use by white, Black and Latino New Yorkers, it has been noted that the latter two groups have been disproportionately targeted and criminalised by laws prohibiting the possession or sale of cannabis.

Of course, this trend is not exclusive to policing in New York, rather it is an unfortunate reality of how marginalised communities have consistently been treated across the US and beyond.

Those who have criminal convictions often find themselves essentially barred from entering the market. Policy makers and industry bodies alike acknowledge that cannabis legalization has a huge roll to play to “right the wrongs of the past”, a sentiment shared by Hochul in this week’s address.

Hochul declared that “the regulations advanced by the Cannabis Control Board today will prioritize local farmers and entrepreneurs, creating jobs and opportunity for communities that have been left out and left behind”.

How will cannabis retail license applications in New York work?

Social equity applicants will be the first people able to apply for the initial 100 to 200 cannabis retail licenses in New York.

These licenses will be reserved for New York residents with cannabis-related convictions, or those with immediate family previously sanctioned for cannabis offences. Moreover, successful applicants will have to evidence that they have experience in running a business.

It is hoped that license holders will be further supported by the state, as Governor Hochul proposed a $200m cannabis fund in the executive budget, to renovate and lease retail storefronts for licensees.

For a state that has had equity initiatives woven into the fabric of its cannabis laws from its inception, this is another progressive step forward for New York and presents a possible legislative pathway for other states looking to develop their legal cannabis markets.

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