Legal Retail to Finally Start in New York

Stephen Andrews
28 Nov 2022

After much waiting, the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has finally announced the list of applicants who are granted a license to sell weed legally. Thirty-six candidates were announced out of 903 applicants in the first round of granting retail permits. The state is expected to reward up to 150 retail licenses in total.

New York authorities have approved the first round of CAURD (Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary) licenses. These will go to 28 justice-involved candidates and eight non-profit organizations. 

OCM reported that the regions with the most CAURD licenses are Manhattan (22), Long Islands (20), Brooklyn (19), Mid-Hudson (19), and Queens (16).

Most of the licensees are people who have previously been charged with a marijuana-related offense and whose family has suffered because of the War on Drugs. 

The non-profits that are also accepted as finalists include organizations such as Housing Works, which fights AIDS and homelessness; The Doe Fund, which fights poverty; and LIFE Camp, which supports youths and families that have suffered violence. 

The OCM has previously said that it wants to open the first retail dispensaries before the end of 2022. "New York is ready for adult-use cannabis sales and we're still working towards the goal of having the first sales begin this calendar year," a spokesperson from the office tweeted. 

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York has also made similar statements before. "We expect the first 20 dispensaries to be open by the end of this year. And then every month or so, another 20. So, we're not going to just jam it out there. It's going to work and be successful." 

However, legal retail has been marred by a few scandals recently. Reports went that New York has over 300,000 pounds of weed worth $750 million, harvested and stockpiled at legal farms with nowhere to go. Weed that's kept for a longer time degrades and loses on quality. A second year into legalization, not a single legal shop for selling weed has been opened in New York. Because none licenses have been handed out. 

Fears have grown that authorities may have waited too long to grant those first permits, creating a fertile ground for the black market to thrive. New Yorkers can already find whatever flower or product they like in head shops, bodegas, and on the streets. The number of dealers has significantly grown since legalization last year. 

To complicate things further, just weeks ago, a judge issued a temporary injunction preventing New York regulators from issuing retail permits in five regions, including parts of Brooklyn and Hudson Valley. The decision was prompted by a lawsuit that challenged New York's program's selection requirements or specifically the notion that the initial selection has prioritized applicants who have a cannabis-related conviction under New York state law. 

If not by the end of this year, New York's legal sales will commence early in 2023. It all depends on how fast the first licensees are handed out their permits to work.  

Stephen Andrews