22 November 2022 |

New York issues first round of recreational cannabis licenses

By Kaitlin Domangue

Believe it or not – recreational cannabis has been legal in New York since March 2021. 

New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act feature a few critical components intended to drive the state’s social equity program, including: 

  • 50% of all adult-use licenses to be awarded to social and economic equity applicants 
  • 40% of tax revenue from adult-use sales will be redirected to communities most impacted by the War on Drugs
  • Equity applicants will receive financial support through low or no-interest loans, a reduction or waiver in fees, and assistance to apply for and operate the business

It’s been a long 18+ months, but the first round of New York licenses was issued earlier this week. 36 cannabis dispensary licenses were awarded to social equity applicants – including eight non-profit organizations.

The 36 selected licenses were chosen out of a pool of 900 applicants – so this is certainly no small feat! The competition was tough, too. 

In addition to the “justice-involved” requirements of cannabis convictions, applicants must prove they’ve owned or controlled at least 10% of a successful business. Bakery, deli, restaurant, and vape shop owners are among the chosen applicants. 

“Today is a monumental day for New York’s nascent cannabis industry,” Tremaine Wright, who chairs the cannabis control board, said. “With the first adult-use retail dispensary licenses in the hands of businesses and eligible non-profits, we’ve ensured the first sales will be made at dispensaries operated by those impacted by the unjust enforcement of cannabis prohibition.”

President Biden to sign bipartisan cannabis research bill

A White House spokesperson told Marijuana Moment that tomorrow, President Biden intends to sign the bipartisan cannabis research bill passed by Congress last week. 

The Senate approved the bill two months after the House passed it. This bill is the first piece of cannabis legislation ever to reach the President’s desk – it’s a huge moment. 

The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act expands research into cannabis-derived medications. When President Biden signs the bill, the U.S. Attorney General will have 60 days to approve an application or request additional information from applicants. 

“There is substantial evidence that marijuana-derived medications can and are providing major health benefits.  Our bill will make it easier to study how these medications can treat various conditions, resulting in more patients being able to easily access safe medications,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the bill’s sponsors. 

“We know that cannabidiol-derived medications can be effective for conditions like epilepsy. This bill will help refine current medical CBD practices and develop important new applications. After years of negotiation, I’m delighted that we’re finally enacting this bill that will result in critical research that could help millions,” Sen. Feinstein said. 

This bill empowers qualified facilities with a Schedule I registration to cultivate their own cannabis for research, including accredited osteopathic schools, research institutions, and more. 

I don’t know about y’all, but that excites me. This is huge. For cannabis legalization as a whole and medical cannabis patients who rely on this medicine but can’t easily access it because of the lack of research. 

It also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to explore the medical benefits and risks of cannabis. 

Hopefully, this is the catalyst to squashing “there’s not enough research” as a reason not to legalize cannabis at the federal level.