New Yorkers With Pot Convictions to Open First Dispensaries

Hemp flower is weighed on a scale at Empire Standard, a hemp-extract processing and distribution plant in Binghamton. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Last March, New York State officially legalized recreational marijuana with then-Governor Andrew Cuomo signing the bill just one day after its passage in the state legislature. In addition to allowing individuals to legally possess up to three ounces of the drug, the bill set the stage for the creation of a multibillion-dollar state cannabis industry including the licensing of retailers to sell marijuana products.

Governor Kathy Hochul will soon lay out additional guidelines to becoming a licensed seller. The New York Times reports that the first retail licenses will be given to people who have been convicted of a criminal offense tied to marijuana or to their family members. Hochul is expected to make the announcement Thursday.

Chris Alexander, the executive director of the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, told the Times that more than 100 licenses would likely be awarded to these retailers with some of their businesses opening as early as the end of this year.

As part of her State of the State agenda unveiled in January, Hochul proposed the creation of a $200 million fund that would “provide direct capital and startup financing” to cannabis-business applicants from marginalized communities with part of the money for the fund coming directly from tax revenue and licensing fees. The fund is intended to help reach the state’s goal of 50 percent of all licenses going to social-equity applicants, such as minorities, women, and veterans, as laid out by the initial legislation.

New Yorkers With Pot Convictions to Open First Dispensaries