Photo by Allie Lehman

City Guides | 03.22.2022

New York Will Give First Business Licenses To Individuals With Past Marijuana Convictions

In an attempt to create a more equitable space, New York will give its first batch of licenses to people with marijuana convictions or people related to someone with charges.

New York is coming in hot with many efforts to create a more equitable cannabis space throughout the state. The announcement went out on Wednesday per the New York Times, explaining that the first batch of licenses to sell recreational cannabis in the state will go to those who have been convicted for cannabis-related crimes

Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul will announce the regulations and details about the application process later today. Following that, the state cannabis control board will sign off on the plans to kick things into gear. 

There are roughly 100 to 200 retail licenses up for grabs in New York. By handing them out to individuals who were most impacted by the war on drugs, the state hopes to continue shedding light on the many inequalities, predominantly racial, still prevalent within our industry. 

Photo courtesy of The Last Prisoner Project

In further detail, the licenses will be given to businesses and nonprofits with an owner or part-owner who’s faced prosecution for cannabis. Next in line are those linked to someone who’s been convicted for marijuana, like a parent, guardian, child, or spouse, notes AP News

However, reports say those who will receive these licenses due to their links with marijuana charges must have faced convictions prior to March 31, 2021, the date when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned New York’s bill to legalize adult-use cannabis. 

There have been countless efforts made by weed-friendly states to further enhance social equity within the industry that now pulls in extensive revenue for a plant that’s disproportionately placed thousands of minorities in prison for actions legal today. 

Photo by Nout Gons / Pexels

Many of these social equity endeavors fall into the realm of business licensing in minority communities to help funnel revenue back into these harmed neighborhoods. Now, New York is looking to give 50% of its licenses to applicants that fall into social equity categories. 

This isn’t the state’s first jab at expanding equity within the industry. A February report from AP News explains that New York has proposed to help fund entrepreneurial women and minorities, farmers, and disabled veterans with a $200 million grant and loan. 

Sources say that Kassandra Frederique, the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance executive director, believes New York is “taking a big swing” with the recent social equity efforts. She said it’s not clear if the plans will work, but it shows that New York is “willing to do things differently…this is a real try towards achieving equity.”

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