Social Equity Applicants Will Get New York’s First Adult-Use Cannabis Licenses

Applicants with prior cannabis-related offenses will receive New York’s first adult-use retail cannabis licenses.

Full story after the jump.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Thursday announced that the first adult-use retail licenses in the state will be made available to individuals with prior cannabis-related offenses. The program, called the Seeding Opportunity Initiative, will give the first licenses to those social-equity applicants that also have a background in owning and operating a small business.

In a press release, the governor’s office said that the initiative, paired with a recently approved bill allowing the state’s hemp farmers to grow cannabis for the adult-use market, could make sales possible in the state before the end of the year. According to the release, the state Cannabis Control Board on Thursday approved a license application for a hemp farmer to begin cultivating THC-rich cannabis in the spring.

“New York State is making history, launching a first-of-its-kind approach to the cannabis industry that takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past. The regulations advanced by the Cannabis Control Board today will prioritize local farmers and entrepreneurs, creating jobs and opportunity for communities that have been left out and left behind. I’m proud New York  will be a national model for the safe, equitable and inclusive industry we are now building.” Hochul in a statement

Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said that the state’s adult-use law “sets a high goal for creating an equitable industry that puts New Yorkers first.”

The Seeding Opportunity Initiative puts us on a path for achieving that goal,” she said in a statement, “and hopefully models a way forward for reaching those goals while building a stable market.”

The initiative includes conditional adult-use dispensary licenses for social-equity applicants and those conditional licenses for hemp farmers, in addition to the $200 million social equity investment program outlined by Hochul in her 2023 Executive Budget.

The 2022 potential start date is unexpected, as Wright had previously indicated that adult-use licenses would not be awarded until at least the spring of 2023. According to the governor’s office, applications for the priority licenses will open in the summer and the first licenses are expected to be distributed by late summer or early fall.

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