New York’s First Adult-Use Cannabis Permits Will Go To People With Previous Marijuana Convictions

Policy is designed to address social equity and assist communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, state officials said Wednesday
Written by 
Chris Kudialis, CBD and Cannabis Reporter.
|Last Updated:

When New York State issues its first retail marijuana permits in the coming weeks, the first several dozen will go to people previously jailed for small-scale cannabis crimes now considered legal under the state’s new cannabis laws.

According to the New York Times, state officials will likely issue the first 100 to 200 cannabis licenses to nonprofits or businesses with a leader that has a previous low-level marijuana conviction. New York’s Office of Cannabis Management will also prioritize people with a parent, legal guardian, child or spouse convicted of a cannabis-related offense for first dibs on licenses.

Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul will officially lay out the new regulations for social equity applicants Thursday and the Office of Cannabis Management will formally approve them later in the afternoon, a state spokesman said.

Social equity applicants must have been convicted of previous marijuana crimes prior to March 31, 2021, when New York’s adult-use legalization bill was passed into law. The state posted its intentions for the new permits Wednesday on the Office of Cannabis Management’s website.

New York officials have not yet made clear exactly how many new cannabis permits will be issued in total, though the state’s legal market is poised to have enormous financial potential when launched. New York has the second highest population of the 18 states currently allowing recreational marijuana, trailing only California.

But while pro-cannabis politicians and business leaders have pushed for social equity and carving a place in the legal market for people who were prosecuted in the past, efforts have so far been slow-moving and inefficient.

Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, told the Associated Press that New York “is taking a big swing” at setting an example for the rest of the country.

“New York is showing that they’re willing to try and do things differently,” Frederique said. “This is a real step towards achieving equity.”

Other New York cannabis initiatives include a proposed $200 million in startup grants and loans for women and minority leaders of cannabis businesses, as well as preference for farmers and disabled veterans involved in the industry. As much as half of all cannabis licenses in the state will go to such applicants.


Chris Kudialis
Chris Kudialis
CBD and Cannabis Reporter
Chris Kudialis is the mainstream media’s authority on marijuana and CBD news coverage in Las Vegas. Chris began covering the beat as a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015, when cannabis had been medical-only for almost two years and the first dispensaries were just opening.

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