These 36 Finalists Are Likely to Be New York’s First Marijuana Retailers
New York legalized cannabis for adult recreational use last year in March, allowing for possession of up to three ounces of weed or 24 grams of concentrate for personal use. Officials have said that retail sales would begin before the end of 2022.
LIFE Camp, a nonprofit Erica Ford founded in 2002 to help reduce violence and arrests in Southeast Queens, may become the first Black woman-led nonprofit to receive a license.
Ms. Ford said the vast majority of her workers, who run the gamut from marketers to violent conflict mediators, have negative experiences associated with decades of prohibition of marijuana, including being victims of violence, or having been arrested. Being considered for a license, she said, gives her hope “that working together, we can make some real transformation.”
“And we want to hold the cannabis board, and all of those involved in this industry to the ground of honesty,” she said.
The first wave of applicants are vying for a total of 175 licenses, which allow operators to open up to three dispensaries. The vast majority, 150, will go to businesses which the state plans to provide with turnkey locations — properties to be rented — and loans covering the cost of preparing the storefronts. The remaining 25 licenses are reserved for nonprofits.
Three of the candidates are entrepreneurs who were assisted by the Bronx Cannabis Hub, a partnership between the Bronx Defenders and the Bronx Community Foundation offering pro bono legal assistance, according to Eli Northrup, a policy counsel at the Bronx Defenders. They were a family from the Bronx, a man from Long Island and a man from Queens, he said.
“I’m so excited for these individuals who represent the cross-section of New Yorkers who have been targeted and suffering from marijuana policing,” he said.
Housing Works, a nonprofit that serves people who are homeless and living with HIV and AIDS, said in a statement that the organization was “honored” to be considered for a license, adding that having one would help “further our mission of ending the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness.