This seems like a great idea, if it works as it’s intended:
If you or a loved one have a pot conviction, you could have a new employment opportunity. New York will give you first dibs to sell marijuana, legally.
While 19 states have legalized recreational weed, New York is the first to offer its initial dispensary licenses solely to entrepreneurs with marijuana convictions. It’s a move aimed at offering an advantage to people, disproportionately in Black and brown communities, harmed by the war on drugs.
“We think that leaning into folks who are not only justice-involved, but have that business experience means that we’re going to find a bunch of applicants who have gone through some significant challenges to still open and operate successful businesses,” Office of Cannabis Management executive director Chris Alexander said in an interview. “We just took a different approach.”
Most states have let medical dispensaries be the first to roll out recreational products, which has largely let big fish get bigger. And places like Illinois and Detroit created lotteries or restrictions to promote diverse ownership in their adult-use weed sectors only to see them mired in legal challenges and legislative fixes for years. So, New York — one of the nation’s largest cannabis markets — went further.
New Yorkers with past cannabis-related convictions and business experience will get the first chance at Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary licenses. If selected, the state will set up the applicants with a retail location and financing to help develop their storefronts — with shops openings potentially as early as the end of the year.
That “social equity” framework, as set forth in in the 2021 law as part of the state Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act which legalized the drug for adult use, underpins the state’s efforts to ensure those most harmed by the decades-long prohibition of marijuana — and not large multi-state operators — are at the center of New York’s recreational program. The Democratic-led Legislature pushed for the measure as part of the law.
Here’s the rub: California was supposed to also set up this type of program for those residents — black and brown people — most sent to prison under draconian marijuana laws.
But loopholes, along with government inertia and stupidity, have made the program a farce.
Let’s hope NY state learns from those mistakes.
You can find out more about those New York cannabis dispensary licenses at this link.