A new article by the New York Times states that business owners who have been convicted of marijuana offenses in New York state can apply for licenses to open cannabis dispensaries. The four-year licenses, the publication states, are for entrepreneurs who have criminal records stemming from marijuana-related offenses.
The license will ultimately allow the business owners to sell cannabis to adults starting as early as this year. This is a strategic move by the state to amend for the war on drugs that disproportionately impacted people of color.
The piece explains this initiative further in depth:
“The licensing effort aims to atone for the damage inflicted during the war on drugs, which has been criticized for targeting communities of color and focusing on drug use as a crime and not a public health issue. Despite similar levels of use across races, Black and Latino residents have been swept up on low-level marijuana charges at higher rates than their white peers. Lawmakers legalized cannabis last year with a focus on social equity, the idea that policy should address past harms and eliminate hurdles that prevent some people from accessing opportunities. There are growing concerns, however, that the licensing process has been more difficult than expected and left eligible applicants without support.”
On Sunday, the lawyers who worked with those eligible claimed nearly 500 applications were submitted. In addition, hundreds of applicants who turned out to be ineligible were denied.
New York state cannabis officials hope to hand out around 150 recreational licenses this fall, which would include 70 in New York City. Twenty-five additional licenses will be allocated for nonprofit organizations helping people who have been incarcerated.
According to an industry report, New York’s cannabis industry will generate an estimated $4 billion in revenue by 2027.