Applications are set to open for New York State’s first nugs of recreational marijuana licenses on Aug. 25, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management announced on Thursday, ahead of a planned rollout of the legal industry later this year.
That day, the portal will open for the Big Apple’s budding entrepreneurs looking to get into the legal weed business, but only if they meet certain conditions. The portal will be accessible through OCM’s website.
The Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license is the first that will be available, and to meet both its equity and efficiency goals in administering the program, OCM placed a strict set of criteria on who will be eligible for the initial set of licenses.
Specifically, successful CAURD applicants must have either a past conviction on marijuana charges or be related to someone with one, and must have sustained experience running a profitable business. Only 150 CAURD licenses are expected to be doled out before the opening of the state’s larger, less stringent application for weed licenses.
“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 OCM executive director Chris Alexander in a statement. “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.”
CAURD was specifically crafted to ensure that communities disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs will have the first crack at legally profiting off the sticky icky, with the aim of distancing New York’s program from those in states like Colorado, where the industry has been dominated by Wall Street and white venture capitalists.
“It’s a lucrative business, it can provide generational wealth,” said aspiring ganja-preneur Douglas Bradley to sister publication Brooklyn Paper last month. “I think that after years of getting in trouble for it, I think it’s great that they’re looking at us first to make money off of it.”
Those granted a coveted CAURD will benefit from substantial investment from OCM, which is promising up to $1.5 million per recipient to help them quickly build out their dispensary operation. The dispensaries will utilize product grown by New York State farmers, from whom OCM is currently accepting and granting cultivation licenses.
Despite New York’s oft-stated public goal of a racially and socially equitable cannabis program, some involved in the illicit weed trade have nonetheless criticized the stringent requirements, arguing that being “justice-involved” in the first place has precluded most potential applicants from the ability to build enough capital to own a business, let alone a successful one.
“A lot of people in my community don’t meet those requirements,” said East New York weed dealer Shake to Brooklyn Paper. “A lot of people in my community get arrested so much they couldn’t even get a good job to get the proper funding to open a business. It’s damn near impossible.”