New York recreational marijuana sales set to begin by end of 2022

New Yorkers who want to operate a recreational marijuana dispensary will be able to start applying as soon as next month.

The Office of Cannabis Management approved the licensing process and application form on Thursday which means retail sales are on track to start by the end of the year. But there are strict regulations right now on who can apply.

"No doubt that limited licenses and jurisdictions breed a ton of problems related to the illicit market," Lauren Rudick with the Hiller, PC Cannabis Law Practice explains. "New York has a rich tradition of an illegal market here and it's going to take a lot for people to ditch their guy."

In order to qualify for this first batch of retail licenses, applicants or their direct relatives must have faced a conviction for a cannabis-related offense, and they must also have at least 2 years of experience operating a successful business.

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The goal is to prioritize those who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and was a key component in the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, but it has received some pushback.

The Office of Cannabis Management received 600 letters during its 60-day public comment period, with many people hoping the application process can be expanded.

"Receiving 600 comments in response to a social equity measure and not making a single change doesn't instill a ton of confidence," Rudick said. "So we'd like to see a little bit more transparency,"

The Cannabis Control Board also approved 20 additional adult use cultivators so now there are 223 farms in New York approved to grow weed for the recreational market.

Regulators will be embarking on a tour of cannabis farms across the state starting on Friday.

But Rudick says that the process might need to move faster if the state wants to keep up with demand.

"I don't think it's enough," Rudick said. "I don't think that they can license these farmers fast enough. I anticipate that every single product that hits the shelves will be sold quickly."

Meanwhile, the city’s law department sent a memo to the NYPD and the FDNY saying that they should no longer test for marijuana.

The NYPD says for now they will continue to rest their members.