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Deadline Passes for First Round of New York Dispensary Licenses

New York’s deadline for adult-use cannabis dispensary licences has passed. Many applicants still await state feedback.

Monday’s deadline came a month after the state’s Office of Cannabis Management officially opened the application portal on August 25.

Since then, the agency has been flooded with applications from individuals hoping for the first crack at the Empire State’s legal marijuana market.

This week was earlier. The New York Times reported that roughly “500 applications had been submitted by Sunday,” adding that hundreds “of ineligible people have been turned away, but so have dozens more who did qualify and needed help navigating the state’s online portal.”

The state will issue 150 licenses in the initial round of this fall. This is for those applicants who have not been convicted for a marijuana-related offense or their family members.

Billed as the “Seeding Opportunity Initiative,” the policy goes further than most of the so-called “social equity” provisions in other states’ marijuana laws.

“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,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke out when she announced the policy in March. “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.”

New York City took similar steps to increase opportunities for people who were adversely affected earlier marijuana laws.

The city’s mayor, Eric Adams, announced last month “a first-of-its-kind initiative and suite of services to support the equitable growth of the cannabis industry in New York City.”

The initiative, known as Cannabis NYC, will provide “technical assistance for cannabis license applicants, as well as other business services to take entrepreneurs beyond licensing to a thriving operation,” while also supporting “cannabis entrepreneurs and their workers as the industry develops.”

It will also collaborate with “industry stakeholders to create good jobs, successful small businesses, and sustainable economic opportunities, while also addressing the harms of cannabis prohibition.” Adams’ office said that the “first phase of Cannabis NYC will focus on ensuring that justice involved New Yorkers are able to apply for and secure retail licenses from the state.”

“Today, we light up our economy and launch Cannabis NYC — a first-of-its-kind initiative to support equitable growth of the cannabis industry in New York City,” Adams said in a press release last month. “The regulated adult-use cannabis industry is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our underserved communities that have, for too long, faced disproportionate rates of drug-related incarceration to get in on the industry on the ground floor. Cannabis NYC is a catalyst for tomorrow’s economy. The program will assist New Yorkers in applying for licenses and learning how to run successful businesses. Additionally, it will provide equity to our economy. This is about creating good jobs, successful small businesses, and finally delivering equity to communities harmed by the ‘War on Drugs.’”

New York’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries that are state-regulated is not likely to be open before the end of this year.

But countless small business owners there have not waited to get in on the “kush rush.” New York City in particular is teeming with illicit cannabis shops, prompting state regulators to crack down on some.