New York’s first pot-selling permits will go to convicts

ALBANY, NY (AP) — The first licenses to sell recreational marijuana in New York City will go to people who are victims of the war on drugs, state officials said Wednesday. It’s an effort to fix the inequities of a justice system that has locked up a disproportionate number of people of color for drug-related crimes.

People with marijuana-related convictions will get dibs on the first 100-200 cannabis retail licenses granted by the state. Some licenses will go to non-profits or businesses with an executive linked to a marijuana conviction. Priority will also be given to people who have a parent, legal guardian, child or spouse who has been convicted of a marijuana-related offence.

Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is expected to announce planned regulations for “social equity” nominees on Thursday. The regulations will receive the green light from the state Cannabis Control Board later today, Office of Cannabis Management spokesman Freeman Klopott said.

Convictions must have occurred before March 31, 2021, the date the state legalization bill was signed into law by former Governor Andrew Cuomo. The plans were first reported by The New York Times. The regulations were posted on the state’s website Wednesday. It’s unclear how many retail licenses will be issued in New York, the second most populous state after California, to legalize possession and use of marijuana for adults over 21.

Social equity has emerged as a key theme in marijuana legalization in recent years. States where marijuana is legal have increasingly tried in recent years to ensure that there is a place in the market for people prosecuted for a now legal drug. But efforts have been slow in many states.

New York is “taking a big turn,” said Kassandra Frédérique, executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance. “We don’t know what’s going to work,” she said, but “what New York is showing here is that they’re willing to try and they’re willing to do things differently.”

It is a real attempt to achieve fairness.

Kassandra Frederique

The licensing plan follows other New York initiatives, such as a proposed $200 million seed grant and loan fund for marijuana entrepreneurs who are women or minorities, struggling farmers, disabled veterans, and people from communities that have endured heavy pot policing. New York aims to provide 50% of the licenses to these applicants.

“It’s really encouraging to see that New York is learning from other states,” said Melissa Moore, another Drug Policy Alliance executive.

New York regulations will also set rules for other retail license applicants. Individual applicants must prove they are in New York and have at least a 10% stake in a company that has been in net profit for two years.

“We want to see an industry big enough and broad enough for everyone to be involved,” said Steve Hawkins, CEO of the US Cannabis Council, an industry group. “This effort is one that we certainly embrace and see as very meaningful, in terms of giving people affected by the war on drugs an opportunity to get into what is going to be a very big market in the state of New York.”

Hochul’s administration is committed to creating the nation’s “most diverse and inclusive” marijuana industry and providing opportunities for people who have borne the brunt of America’s long-running war on drugs. decades.

Sallie R. Loera