New York has doubled the number of licenses awarded for legal marijuana shops in the first round of licensing. Since the state legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in 2019, only four shops have opened, while unauthorized pot shops have been sprouting up across the state.
In response, the state initially planned to award 150 dispensary licenses, but has now decided to give out 300 such licenses after receiving over 900 applications. However, 40% of the proposed licenses are allocated for parts of the state where the state can’t issue them due to an ongoing lawsuit over license rules regarding applicants’ ties to New York.
The lawsuit, which applies to certain areas in Brooklyn, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the mid-Hudson region and western New York, argued that the rules favoring applicants with existing ties to the state constituted a racial bias. The state is appealing the decision, pointing out that it had taken steps to ensure equity and fairness in the process.
The state has also created a Social Equity Program, which provides assistance to those from communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. This includes grants, mentoring and technical assistance, as well as access to capital for those businesses seeking to enter the industry.
As the state works to expand access to legal marijuana shops, many have expressed hope that the process will be conducted fairly and without bias. Those seeking to enter the marijuana industry are looking forward to the additional licenses, which will give them access to a larger customer base and the opportunity to expand their businesses in the future.