When New York state lawmakers legalized recreational pot last year, they were intent on including measures that would ensure those negatively impacted by the War on Drugs and members of underserved communities would have a path into the emerging legal cannabis industry. Under these so-called social equity provisions, half of all licenses for marijuana businesses are reserved for women, veterans, minorities, distressed farmers and “individuals who have lived in communities disproportionally impacted” by drug prohibition enforcement policies. In March, New York went a step farther when Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the first 100 licenses for adult-use cannabis retailers would go to those with past convictions for cannabis offenses.
For many cannabis policy reform activists, New York’s progress on social equity is a welcome change from the early days of legalization, which sometimes offered expungement for past convictions but otherwise left victims of the War on Drugs with little hope of getting a stake in the industry. But even with robust equity measures, individuals who have borne the brunt of the drug war, particularly members of Black and Brown communities, still face significant obstacles to gaining a toehold in the legal weed business.
Cannabis Retail Coming to New York
Coss Marte is one of the many entrepreneurs intent on obtaining one of New York’s first 100 licenses for recreational cannabis retailers. After spending six years in prison for selling weed, he meets the requirements set by Hochul and the New York Office of Cannabis Management. Growing up, he was introduced to marijuana at an early age.
Before long, he saw selling drugs as one of the few viable economic opportunities available to him. Well in advance of legalization, Marte got an early start supplying cannabis and other drugs to New Yorkers through the city’s underground industry. But after a …
Author: A.J. Herrington / High Times