New York to Limit Licenses to Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

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NEW YORK – The first round of adult-use retail licenses in New York will be awarded to people who did time in the joint for non-violent crimes involving joints. According to regulations approved by the Cannabis Control Board in March, applicants or their immediate family members must have been convicted of nonviolent crimes before the state legalized recreational use in 2021.

“If the applicant is an individual, or an entity with one or more individuals, at least one individual must be justice-involved,” the regulations state.


The regs define “justice-involved” as anyone who was convicted of a cannabis offense, “had a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, or dependent who was convicted,” or “was a dependent of an individual who was convicted of a [cannabis-related] offense.”

Nonprofits that serve former offenders also may qualify for a license if they “serve justice-involved individuals and communities with historically high rates of arrest, conviction, incarceration or other indicators of law enforcement activity,” create jobs for those returning to society after incarceration for a cannabis crime, or employ justice-involved individuals in executive positions or on their board of directors.

As part of an effort to get stores open by the end of the year, Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed a $200-million fund that will help new licensees locate and build out retail space and provide financial support for other start-up expenses.