NEW YORK — New York state is expected to announce the first retail recipients of marijuana licenses Monday, the latest step in an arduous process fraught with legal red tape and bringing New York closer to capitalizing on the economic potential that other states have reaped from recreational marijuana sales activities in recent years.
The state board will likely unveil the first 20 to 40 retail licenses. Officials said that up to 150 are expected to be available to businesses and individuals, while another 25 licenses will be reserved for nonprofits.
Half of the 20 to 40 retail licenses to be announced Monday are also expected to be within the five counties, and those that are ready to begin operating can open in a matter of days or weeks once the state gives them the go-ahead.
The state Bureau of Cannabis Management released a list of three dozen adult-use retail applicants whose licenses have been pre-approved ahead of Monday’s vote at the Harlem offices on 125th Street. Applicants in the initial round had to demonstrate “a significant presence in New York State.” See the full list here.
This is the list of the 36 CAURD-recommended applicants for approval:
You won’t be able to knock on doors today or tomorrow: once a business or nonprofit gets a license, it still has to complete a round of paperwork. But New York’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries should be up and running by December, and that’s not even two weeks from now.
It’s unclear how many total licenses will be issued statewide or in New York City, where some in Brooklyn are waiting with bated breath after a federal judge temporarily blocked the state from issuing recreational marijuana licenses there and in uptown areas amid ongoing legal challenges to the screening process.
The judge’s order temporarily prohibits the state from issuing retail licenses for the five regions of the state that Variscite selected in its commercial application – Brooklyn, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the Mid-Hudson region and Western New York. It does not cover nine other regions of the state, including the rest of the city.
The ruling affects as many as 63 of the 150 potential commercial licenses.
New York still plans to begin adult-use marijuana sales later this year, starting with store owners with prior marijuana convictions or their family members. State lawmakers designed the legal market to ensure that the first retailers would be people directly affected by drug enforcement.
In addition to aspiring sellers, hundreds of hemp farmers who recently grew New York’s first legal marijuana crop want clarity on when dispensaries will open to market their harvest.
“They really don’t have much choice but to wait and hope they don’t have to take any losses,” said Dan Livingston of the New York Cannabis Association, a trade group.
New York’s legalization approach has received some praise for innovating and emphasizing fairness, and applicant advocate and cannabis lawyer Scheril Murray Powell counsels patience. As a chief operating officer of the Justus Foundation, she works to help lifelong sellers legalize.