The state’s cannabis regulatory board on Monday approved 36 of 175 potential pot-selling licenses, at least 13 of which will be based in the city.

The first batch of Adult Conditional Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURDs) from the Office of Cannabis Management are exclusively for those impacted by cannabis-related convictions.

“Not so long ago, the idea of ​​New York legalizing cannabis seemed incredible,” Cannabis Control Council President Tremaine Wright said ahead of the vote. “Now we not only have legalized, but we are also building a legal market for adult use with an equity-focused approach that embodies the ambitious goals of our MRTA [Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act].”

Of the companies given the go-ahead on Monday, four will be based in Manhattan and four in Queens, while three will be in the Bronx and two in Staten Island, according to recipient biographies shared by CMO.

No licensee can yet be based in Brooklyn and four other areas outside the city, thanks to an injunction earlier this month in a lawsuit filed by Variscite NY One, a Michigan-based company whose claim was denied for the condemnation of its owner was out of state.

He argues that the CAURD requirement of a cannabis-related conviction goes against the state constitution.

Eight of the 36 licenses went to nonprofit groups.

“These are the types of individuals and organizations that the MRTA envisioned as the foundation of our industry,” CMO Executive Director Chris Alexander said at the meeting.


Nicholas Koury, 33, of Manhattan was among the recipients of the license. Growing up in East Harlem, Koury started selling weed when she was 13 years old. In 2017 he was arrested when police found four pounds of cannabis in the trunk of his car.

“It’s a weird feeling that it’s something that I can hopefully start to be proud of, rather than being scrutinized and reviled,” Koury told THE CITY ahead of Monday’s meeting.

Koury does not yet know where his dispensary will be located in Manhattan — the state will coordinate with businesses to find dispensary spaces — or when he expects his business to be operational.

However, Koury, who has run a gym in Mt. Vernon for a few years and also owns a personal training business, said he was “excited to put my business expertise to the test.”

“I think it’s important that our disadvantaged communities, in particular, start being at the forefront of legalization, simply because they’ve been at the forefront of criminalization for so long.”

Take off from the ground

Monday’s vote was the culmination of goals set out in the MRTA to address inequities in marijuana-related law enforcement.

Statewide, there are 150 license locations for private businesses and 25 for nonprofits. Of this total, 70 are attributed to New York.

In addition to the cannabis-related conviction requirements, CAURD applicants also had to show that they had at least two years of experience running a profitable business.

The state will support CAURD businesses with plug-and-play dispensaries set up with the help of the New York State Dormitory Authority (DASNY).

Licensees will also be eligible for a loan through the state’s New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, which they can use for construction and other costs associated with setting up their dispensary.

Unlike private companies, nonprofits must also have a track record of helping formerly incarcerated people — and won’t be supported by a turnkey outlet.

Among the nonprofits approved were Housing Works, Queens-based Urban Upbound, and the Center for Community Alternatives.

Governor Kathy Hochul said in an interview in October that 20 of the dispensaries would open by the end of the year. But Monday’s meeting did not shed light on how the state would achieve that goal.

Newly approved licensees received no additional information about whether the state had secured their retail location. And for city-based licensees, especially in the more competitive retail districts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, business insiders said it would be difficult to open so many dispensaries here. the end of the year.

Weighed down on hold

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Alexander did not confirm that the state had secured any outlets and provided a reduced estimate of the number of dispensaries that would be open in the state by the end of the year. year: at least one.

However, license holders will be able to sell cannabis by delivery only while their locations are finalized, although they will need to complete additional paperwork to obtain authorization.

Key to the CAURD program is the New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund, which is managed by Social Equity Impact Ventures LLC. While the state plans to raise $50 million of the fund from license fees and revenue, the fund manager will raise the remaining $150 million from the private sector.

However, it is also unclear how much was raised for the fund. Alexander asked DASNY about the fund.

Alexander said there will likely be another board meeting in December, “where we can continue this work of rolling out candidates.

With only 36 of the 175 licenses awarded on Monday, the rest of just over 900 applicants will have to wait until the next meeting to find out if they will be part of the next wave of CAURD beneficiaries. Alexander said there could be a reunion next month, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

“I feel hopeful,” said Howell “Howie” Miller, 52, a CAURD candidate from the Bronx who didn’t get a license on Monday. “It’s the waiting process that weighs on me. The anticipation of getting it versus not getting it. I sort of put my life on hold.