New York governor Kathy Hochul has announced people with prior cannabis-related convictions will be the first to be granted retail licences under the state’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative.

Hochul said the move would make sales possible in New York before the end of the year, jumpstart its cannabis industry and boost investment into communities most impacted by the ‘war on drugs’.   

New York governor Kathy Hochul

Convictions must have occurred before the bill legalising recreational cannabis use was signed into law by former governor Andrew Cuomo on March 31, 2021.

Hochul said: “New York State is making history, launching a first-of-its-kind approach to the cannabis industry that takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past.” 

“The regulations advanced by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) will prioritise local farmers and entrepreneurs, creating jobs and opportunity for communities that have been left out and left behind. I’m proud New York will be a national model for the safe, equitable and inclusive industry we are now building.”

Under the plans, conditional adult-use retail dispensaries must be owned by equity-entrepreneurs with a prior cannabis-related criminal offence who also have a background owning and operating a small business. They will be the first to open and make sales in New York State.  

Applications for these 100-200 priority licences will open in the US summer, with the first expected to be granted soon afterwards

The CCB also approved a licence for hemp farmers seeking to grow adult-use cannabis, with applications open from March 15.  

CCB chair Tremaine Wright said: “Our state’s cannabis law sets a high goal for creating an equitable industry that puts New Yorkers first. The Seeding Opportunity Initiative puts us on a path for achieving that goal and hopefully models a way forward for reaching those goals while building a stable market.”

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...