NY mulls proposal to reserve 1st marijuana retail licenses for people convicted of pot-related offenses
The New York State Cannabis Management board will vote on a proposal Thursday to give people who have been convicted or have had family convicted of a marijuana-related offense the first shot at a marijuana retail license.
An OCM spokesperson says he expects the first 100 to 200 licenses will be set aside.
These first dispensaries are set to open by the end of the year, according to an OCM spokesperson.
This is part of a plan to make sure people most impacted by the war of drugs get the first shot to benefit from the newly formed industry.
A 2018 report from Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes alternatives to the war on drugs, found Black and Hispanic people in Westchester were significantly more likely to be arrested for low-level marijuana possession compared to white residents despite a near-equal level of marijuana use.
Black people are 3.73 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana nationally despite using the drug at equal rates with white people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
New York legalized recreational marijuana last March allowing adults to have and use a limited amount of marijuana.
It also changed the way local prosecutors pursued marijuana cases.
Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah dismissed 184 marijuana-related cases last July. Former DA Anthony Scarpino stopped prosecuting most low-level marijuana cases in 2019.
The OCM board is expected to begin taking applications from state hemp farmers who want to grow marijuana starting March 15, according to documents posted on the Office of Cannabis Management's website. State law requires the recreational marijuana sold to be grown in New York.
The 2021 law legalizing recreational marijuana set aside half of the business licenses for women and minority applicants.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is proposing $200 million in this year's budget to support the state's first legal marijuana businesses. Part of the funds will go toward helping the new business owners find vacant storefronts to set up shop.
The Cannabis Management Board is holding a virtual news conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday following its meeting at 1 p.m. to vote on the eligibility proposal.
News 12 reached out to the governor's office but hasn't heard back.
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