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New York Issues First 36 Dispensary Licenses For Recreational Marijuana Purposes

New York City issued its first 36 cannabis dispensary license on Monday, thus taking an important step in setting up a legal and attractive marketplace for recreational marijuana.

The licenses, which were approved by the state's cannabis control board were the first of 175 the state plans to issue, with many in the first round being reserved for people with past convictions for marijuana offenses.

Among the 36 licensees issued on Monday, eight non-profit groups were included. Some of the dispensaries, which are selected from more than 900 applicants, are expected to open by year-end.

New York has also planned a $200m public-private fund to help "social equity" applicants fight drug addiction, especially in communities of color.

Tremaine Wright, who chairs the cannabis control board, said, "Today is a monumental day for New York's nascent cannabis industry. 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."

A court ruling earlier this month has delayed the board from approving dispensaries in some parts of the state amid a legal dispute over licensing criteria. Nevertheless, officials said they would issue the remaining licenses as quickly as possible.

With the first licenses now issued, it remained to be seen whether officials would step up their efforts to go after scores of unauthorized dispensaries opened in the past year .

New York legalized recreational use of marijuana in March 2021 but is still in the process of licensing people to sell it.
The cannabis board also advanced proposed regulations for the sale of marijuana, with a focus on public health, product quality and safety and preventing those under 21 from buying cannabis.

While some rejoiced over Monday's development, others took a more cautious view.
Parents said "Whether these new legal recreational dispensaries will be able to compete with existing medical marijuana outlets if allowed to enter the recreational market at the same time as new licensees.

But according to the draft regulations released on Sunday, medical outlets may have to wait another three years before they can enter the recreational market.

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