On Monday, New York granted licenses to the first 36 marijuana dispensaries, marking a significant step toward creating a legitimate and lucrative market for recreational marijuana.
The first of 175 licenses the state intends to grant—many of which will be reserved for candidates with prior marijuana-related convictions—was given by the state’s Cannabis Control Board.
On Monday, 36 licenses were awarded, including eight to charitable organizations.
By the end of the year, some of the clinics chosen from a pool of more than 900 applicants will likely open.
New York has also announced a $200 million public-private fund to assist “social equity” applicants and help undo the harm caused by the drug war, particularly in communities of color.
“Today is a monumental day for New York’s nascent cannabis industry. With the first adult-use retail dispensary licenses in the hands of businesses and eligible nonprofits, we’ve ensured the first sales will be made at dispensaries operated by those impacted by the unjust enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” said Tremaine Wright, who chairs the Cannabis Control Board.
In light of a legal dispute over the license requirements, a court decision earlier this month has prevented the board in some regions of the state from certifying dispensaries.
Officials promised to issue the last few licenses as soon as possible.
One of the earliest permits was obtained by Angel Turuseta and Emely Chavez, owners of Royal Leaf NY in the Bronx.
When contacted shortly after the board meeting, Turuseta expressed surprise and said, “I’m still trying to understand it.”
Queens resident Suzanne Furboter also had trouble speaking. We’re thankful, and it’s pretty thrilling, she remarked.
A nonprofit organization in New York City called Housing Works said the license it received on Monday would allow it to continue assisting low-income New Yorkers with HIV or AIDS.