New York cannabis regulators will begin accepting retail licenses on Aug. 25, the Office of Cannabis Management on Thursday announced. 

License applications will be accepted for a month after an online portal opens. 

The move signals a key development for the start of New York's cannabis marketplace, a sector that is expected to generate more than $1 billion in economic activity in the coming years. 

“Today’s announcement brings us to the precipice of legal, licensed cannabis sales in New York State,” said Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright. “With the Seeding Opportunity Initiative, New York has affirmed our commitment to making sure the first sales are conducted by those harmed by prohibition. We’re writing a new playbook for what an equitable launch of a cannabis industry looks like, and hope future states follow our lead.” 

Officials are placing an empahsis on granting licenses to "justice involved" New Yorkers -- people who have been affected by stricter drug laws either directly or as a family member. License holders must also have shown experience in owning and operating a qualifying business. 

“In just two weeks my team will start accepting applications for adult-use retail cannabis dispensaries. This is a monumental step in establishing the most equitable, diverse, and accessible cannabis industry in the nation,” said Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander. “We’ve worked to make this application as simple as possible for all interested applicants, and I cannot emphasize it enough that you do not need any legal expertise to fill this application out.”