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New York to give first cannabis licenses to those arrested for using the plant

Mar 11, 2022 2:02 pm

Rebekah F. Ward reports in the Times Union that New York's cannabis regulators approved rules on March 10 that would give business owners with documented cannabis offenses the first chances in the state to open a retail cannabis store. Owners or a family member of applicants must have been ticketed or arrested for a cannabis offense in New York, to get the first licenses issued in New York. "The marijuana arrest crusade in New York enforcement was targeted disproportionately at Black and (Latino) people, who comprised nearly 90 percent of marijuana arrests despite using at rates similar to white people," the Drug Policy Alliance's executive director, Kassandra Frederique said, adding that she was encouraged to see the state "attempting to innovate" with its policy decisions. A representative of the Office of Cannabis Management explained the policy. "The dispensaries and retailers would be selling the product that would have (been grown by) New York farmers," said Axel Bernabe, the office's senior policy director. "We would be looking for individuals that come from communities that have been impacted ... by over-criminalization." Even with the announcement, it may be more than a year before stores are open. "We're anticipating July or so for the application tied to these conditional retail licenses," Chris Alexander, the executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, said. "I want to emphasize again, this is a small segment of the potential dispensary licenses ... but we found it prudent to get this market off the ground as soon as possible." Read more about this story in the Times Union.