By Keshia Clukey
New York’s first retail licenses to sell recreational cannabis will go to applicants who were convicted of marijuana-related offenses before recreational pot was legalized, or whose relatives were found guilty of a crime connected to pot, according to regulations approved Thursday.
Big companies operating retail shops in other states will have to wait to compete for licenses to do business in New York; those regulations are still being written, according to the Office of Cannabis Management.
Thursday’s vote on the initial regulations cleared the way for potential pot entrepreneurs to submit applications beginning sometime next month. Ex-cons or their relatives will qualify if they were found guilty of a marijuana-related offense before March 31, 2021, and have experience owning and operating a successful business in the state.
Those retailers are being given a head start on the legal cannabis trade because of a state law intended to right the scales in neighborhoods, particularly communities of color that for decades were disproportionately targeted under state and federal drug laws. State officials envision eventually collecting $363 million a year in marijuana taxes. Money raised through a 13% sales tax would be divided between the state (9%) and localities (4%). Distributors will collect an additional excise tax of as much as 3 cents per milligram of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, using a sliding scale based on the type of product and its potency. The conditional retail license regulations take effect on August 3, 2022. The office expects to give out between 100 and 200 licenses, which would be non-transferrable for four years. Retail sales could begin later this year.
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