New York took an important step toward launching a legal market for recreational marijuana on Sunday by announcing the first 36 businesses and nonprofits considered to obtain licenses for retail dispensaries in the state.
The Office of Cannabis Management released the list of candidates ahead of a vote by its governing body, the Cannabis Control Board, on Monday, which will step up the race to start legal sale in the state despite a legal challenge to the licensing program. Regulators have also published 282 pages of draft regulations that lay the foundation for the wider market.
Selected from a pool of 903 applicants, the nominees are mostly businesses owned and controlled by individuals convicted of cannabis-related crimes or their close relatives, and several non-profit organizations that serve individuals with a history of arrest or incarceration. . All listed finalists are expected to be confirmed in Monday’s vote.
The licensing effort is designed to help the state achieve its goal of prioritizing people in communities heavily targeted during the war on drugs for opportunities in the legal cannabis industry. Like the rest of the country, the cannabis ban in New York has swept mostly Black and Hispanic residents into the criminal justice system, despite similar levels of use across all races.
The list, released Sunday, identifying candidates by application numbers includes at least three New York City-based nonprofits: Officials representing the organizations confirmed Housing Affairs, The Doe Fund, and LIFE Camp.
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Axel Bernabe, chief of staff and senior policy director for the Office of Cannabis Management, said earlier this month that the first round of candidates proposed for licenses will represent a “freshman class” of applicants.
Once approved, state regulators “will help them as much as possible to find an office, open a dispensary, and begin essentially distributing the estimated 200,000 pounds of produce and several hundred product lines we’ve seen coming out of conditional growers and processors.” Mr. Bernabe said at the Cannabis Trade Conference on Nov.
The draft regulations lay out the fees and timelines for some other types of licensing, including co-ops and more retail, as well as the conditions for the state’s medical marijuana providers to enter the recreational market. The public will have 60 days to comment.
However, the guidelines governing the highly anticipated delivery services were not included, and regulators said they would be made available at a later date.
New York legalized marijuana for adult recreational use in March last year, allowing the possession of up to three ounces of weed or 24 grams of concentrate for personal use. Officials said retail sales will begin before the end of 2022.
LIFE Camp, a nonprofit founded in 2002 by Erica Ford to reduce violence and arrests in Southeast Queens, may be the first Black female-led nonprofit to receive a license.
Ms. Ford said the vast majority of her employees, who manage a wide range of employees, from marketers to violent conflict mediators, have had negative experiences with cannabis prohibition for decades, including being the victim of violence or being arrested. She said that being considered for a degree gives hope that “working together we can make a real transformation.”
“And we want to hold the cannabis board and everyone involved in this industry on a basis of integrity,” he said.
The first wave of applications are competing for a total of 175 licenses, allowing operators to open up to three dispensaries. The vast majority, 150, will go to businesses that the state plans to provide turnkey locations—properties to rent—and loans that cover the cost of preparing the storefronts. The remaining 25 licenses are reserved for nonprofits.
According to Eli Northrup, a policy adviser at Bronx Defenders, three of the candidates are entrepreneurs supported by the Bronx Cannabis Hub, a partnership between the Bronx Defenders and the Bronx Community Foundation that offers free legal aid. A family from the Bronx said they were a man from Long Island and a man from Queens.
“I’m so excited for these individuals who represent the cross-section of New York City and are suffering and targeted by marijuana policing,” he said.
Housing Works, a nonprofit that serves people who are homeless and living with HIV and AIDS, said in a statement it was “honoured” that the organization was considered for a license, adding that having a license will help “further further our mission to end the twin.” added. AIDS crises and homelessness.”
New York was the first state to explicitly reserve licenses for nonprofits, and since cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, it’s unclear how this will affect their federal tax status.
One of the candidates to be confirmed Monday is Center for Community Alternatives, a Syracuse-based nonprofit that provides alternatives to incarceration for detainees and re-entry services for people returning from prison and prison to the community across the state.
Executive director David Condliffe said that granting dispensary licenses to nonprofits like his has a benefit for public safety. “The programs we offer make communities safer,” he said. “And this becomes a way in which these programs can be funded without taxpayer reliance. This is really important and will increase public safety.”
The state has been temporarily blocked from issuing 63 of the licenses issued for five districts, including Brooklyn, due to an injunction in a federal lawsuit filed by a Michigan-based company against eligibility requirements. Plaintiff Variscite NY One argues that criteria that require applicants to have strong ties to New York, such as domicile or headquarters, and have a state cannabis-related conviction violate constitutional protections regarding interstate commerce.
The state did not say whether it plans to appeal the decision.