- Only eight of the individuals awarded licenses fell outside of New York City and Long Island, spanning the Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, and North Country regions.
- New York City and Long Island got 13 and seven dispensaries, respectively.
New York officials approved the state’s first 36 cannabis dispensary licenses on Monday amid a push to begin legal marijuana sales in coming months.
A total of 28 Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary licenses, or CAURD licenses, went to New Yorkers affected by biased enforcement of the decades-long prohibition on marijuana. Another eight CAURD licenses went to nonprofits with a history of helping incarcerated people.
The dispensaries can make cannabis sales to people over 21 years old in the state, officials said, calling it an historic step since the state’s 2021 law legalizing marijuana.
But several speakers during the public hearing raised concerns the fledgling industry could struggle in the face of rampant black market pot sales, including countless unlicensed stores currently selling pot in New York City.
Who got NY cannabis dispensary licenses?
New York’s list of cannabis dispensary winners included a diverse mix of people and businesses, spanning everything from bakery, deli, and restaurant owners to pet supply retailers and vape shop owners.
In order to be eligible for CAURD licenses, a person had to have a cannabis conviction themselves or have a family member who had one, and they must own a profitable business. Eligible nonprofits had to have a history of working with current or former justice-involved individuals, among other requirements.
Only eight of the individuals awarded licenses fell outside of New York City and Long Island, spanning the Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier, and North Country regions. New York City and Long Island got 13 and seven dispensaries, respectively.
Still, several of the nonprofits awarded licenses currently provide services across large swaths of upstate New York, including Rochester and Binghamton.
State officials didn’t immediately answer questions Monday about efforts to award more licenses to other regions.
Meanwhile, a federal court ruling this month temporarily blocked five of the state’s 14 regions from issuing cannabis licenses, including the Fingers Lakes and Mid-Hudson regions. State officials declined to comment on the ruling, citing ongoing litigation.
A total of 900 applications for licenses were submitted under the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary program.
The Southern Tier licenses included William Durham, who owned and operated WH Convenience Store, a convenience store in downtown Binghamton that supplied lotto, tobacco, and cold and hot food.
Another went to Union Chill Cannabis NY, owned by Joshua Canfield and Union Chill Cannabis Company. Canfield owns and operates Next Level Wellness, a licensed hemp retailer in Hornell.
The Mohawk Valley license went to Cured NY, owned by Francis Russo, who owned and operated Premium MFG, an Oneonta-based design and printing business that offers graphic design products and services through its e-commerce store.
What’s next for New York cannabis dispensaries?
Ultimately, up to 175 CAURD licenses will be granted in total. As many as 150 will go to individual applicants and up to 25 to nonprofit applicants.
Going forward, licenses applications will be sent to the Cannabis Control Board for its consideration on a rolling basis, state officials said.
Individuals issued licenses will receive support from the social equity cannabis investment fund, which is being funded by licensing fees, cannabis industry revenue collected by the state and private investment.
The dispensaries will be selling New York-grown marijuana harvested by one of the state’s more than 220 cannabis farms that received conditional cultivator licenses in 2022.
The board also voted Monday to progress the state’s cannabis regulations package, which will be filed for a 60-day public comment period. Comments can be filed by emailing [email protected]
For further details about the dispensaries and regulations, visit the board’s website at cannabis.ny.gov.
Which nonprofits received NY cannabis licenses?
Here is the list of nonprofits with dispensary licenses:
- Housing Works Cannabis (Housing Works) a New York City-based healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
- The Doe Store, affiliated with The Doe Fund, which provides in part temporary work, transitional housing, continuing education, career training, and emotional counseling to New York City’s marginalized populations.
- Urban Weeds (Urban Upbound) a Queens-based organization that assists individuals, including formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, looking for employment.
- CWS Holdings I (Challenge Industries) an Ithaca-based group that creates pathways to employment for people with disabilities or barriers to resources such as justice-involved individuals
- NYCCABUDS (The Center of Community Alternatives) working on community-based alternatives to incarceration in communities in New York City, Rochester and Syracuse.
- Kush & Kemet LLC (LIFE CAMPS – Love Ignites Freedom Through Education), a community organization that is a leader in violence prevention and intervention in the country.
- On Point Cannabis (Broome County Urban League) which provided social services for their local community in Binghamton.
- GOTHAM CAURD (STRIVE), which has been a national group helping those facing the biggest societal barriers to employment.