Members of the New York state Cannabis Control Board voted Wednesday to approve more than 200 additional licenses — nearly doubling the issued licenses for people with former marijuana convictions who want to open a recreational store amid a slow-moving statewide industry rollout.
A total of 212 licenses were awarded to 46 applicants in Manhattan, 44 in Brooklyn, 28 in the Capital Region, 24 on Long Island, 18 in the Mid-Hudson region, 14 in Queens, nine each in the Finger Lakes, Western New York and the Bronx, five in Richmond, four in the Southern Tier and one each in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley.
It marks another expansion of the state's Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary license program, which is prioritized for upcoming business owners with a cannabis conviction under former drug laws or people who have a family member with a previous conviction.
"This expansion is necessary to help prepare New York's market for the next phase of adult-use cannabis," Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said at Wednesday's meeting. "The decision to further expand the CAURD program will help ensure the retail market is robust enough to sell the cannabis grown by New York farmers and accelerate the transition of New York consumers from the illicit to the legal market."
Licensees can begin to secure a retail location and submitting final plans for approval to OCM.
The board has awarded 463 conditional adult-use licenses to justice-involved New Yorkers to date. The program was initially intended for 150 licenses.
"The provisional approval of today’s 212 CAURD licenses by the Cannabis Control Board marks a momentous leap forward in our pursuit of an inclusive and fair cannabis industry," Cannabis Control Board chair Tremaine Wright said in a statement Wednesday. "These licensees are demonstrative of the innovation and diversity of New York state."
Of the 463 licenses, 20 legal dispensaries are open across New York, nestled among hundreds of illicit stores in every region operating without state regulation.
The board will approve one more tranche of CAURD applications in the coming months, with additional applications opening outside the program this fall.