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900 Apply for NY's First Licenses to Sell Recreational Cannabis

The state plans to issue about 150 licenses in this first round.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — More than 900 would-be pot shop operators have applied for a chance to open New York state's first legal dispensaries for recreational marijuana, regulators said Wednesday.

The state has said it plans to issue about 150 licenses in this first round, which was open only to people with past pot convictions or their relatives. Some 903 applications came in before the deadline passed Monday, the state Office of Cannabis Management tweeted.

A message was sent to the agency asking when the licenses will be awarded.

There's no exact date yet for sales to begin in New York, which is expected to become one of the country's biggest legal cannabis markets.

Officials aim to ensure it creates opportunities for people who were most affected by pot policing, which resulted in disproportionate arrests of Black and Latino people.

"We look forward to building the nation's most equitable and diverse cannabis market," the cannabis office tweeted Wednesday.

That's why the first licenses are reserved for businesses and nonprofit groups with a leader who was convicted of a marijuana offense or has a close relation who was. There are other requirements, including experience running a business that was profitable for at least two years.

Other people will be able to apply later. The state wants to award half its recreational pot licenses to applicants who are people of color, women, struggling farmers, disabled veterans or residents of communities that endured heavy pot policing.

The state also has pledged to establish a $200 million fund for startup grants, loans and other assistance for those licensees.

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