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State of New York Cannabis Licensing

While most states with legalized cannabis have banned people with drug felonies from entering the legal market, New York has taken a very different approach.

The “Seeding Opportunity Initiative” announced by New York Governor Kathy Hochul is part of an effort to give a head start in the industry to communities impacted by cannabis prohibition. New York plans to award its first cannabis dispensary licenses to people convicted of marijuana-related offenses in the state. The Seeding Opportunity Initiative is expected to be funded by a $200 million grant.

The New York State Cannabis Control Board plans to allow the first couple hundred retail licenses to be given to people who have been convicted of cannabis-related crimes. Helping people transition to the legal market is one of the goals of this groundbreaking program.

Applications for priority licenses are expected to open in summer 2022. The first licenses are expected to be approved by early fall 2022 with sales launching before the end of 2022.

Over the last 20 years, the state has arrested over one million people for marijuana-related offenses so there is no shortage of potential applicants. Applicants must have been convicted prior to March 31, 2021 when former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act into law. Applicants with a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse or dependent convicted of a marijuana crime are also eligible for this opportunity.

New York’s legal cannabis market is slated to become one of the United States’ largest. It is estimated that it will reach $4.2 billion in sales by 2027. The state expects to collect $350 million in tax revenue annually.

Governor Hochul signed a bill in February 2022 allowing New York hemp farmers to grow marijuana. These farmers will supply the social-equity dispensaries with product. New York’s social equity cannabis investment program will help licensed equity applicants find, lease and renovate storefronts into cannabis dispensaries. The emerging cannabis industry opportunities will promote New York’s farmers and grow their economy.

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