NEW YORK (AP) — New York issued its first 36 cannabis dispensary licenses on Monday, taking a monumental step in establishing a legal — and lucrative — marketplace for recreational marijuana.
The licenses approved by the state’s Cannabis Control Board were the first of 175 the state plans to issue, with many in the first round reserved for applicants with past convictions for marijuana offenses.
Eight nonprofit groups were among the 36 licensees granted Monday.
Some of the dispensaries, selected from a pool of more than 900 applicants, are expected to open by the end of the year.
New York has also planned a $200 million public-private fund to aid “social equity” applicants to help redress the ravages of the war on drugs, especially in communities of color.
“This is a monumental moment and it represents the last leg of the cannabis supply chain that requires licensure,” said Tremaine Wright, who chairs the Cannabis Control Board.
“Not long ago, the idea of New York legalizing cannabis seemed unbelievable. Now, not only have we legalized it, but we’re also building a legal adult-use market with an equity driven approach that embodies the ambitious goals” of the state’s marijuana law.
A court ruling earlier this month has delayed the board from approving dispensaries in some parts of the state amid a legal dispute over licensing criteria. Nevertheless, officials said they would issue the remaining licenses as quickly as possible.
Marijuana plants for the adult recreational market are are seen in a greenhouse at Hepworth Farms in Milton, N.Y., July 15, 2022. New York has issued the first 36 cannabis dispensary licenses on Monday, Nov. 21, 2022 taking a monumental step in establishing a legal — and lucrative — marketplace for recreational marijuana. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)