ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Office of Cannabis Management announced Thursday that equity entrepreneurs with prior marijuana convictions will be the first to get licenses to sell cannabis in New York. The family members of New Yorkers who have prior marijuana convictions will also be prioritized.
This would impact people like Coss Marte. “At the age of 13, I was first arrested for carrying a couple bags of weed,” said Marte. “Then eventually, went down a spiral. Since then, I’ve been arrested six times and then I went in for my last final time for a seven-year prison sentence.”
Once he got out, he started a fitness business called Conbody and hired others who were once incarcerated. Now, he’s looking to expand into the cannabis industry. “Each individual is allowed to go after three licenses, so hoping to open up three stores,” said Marte. “If I get approved for all three, I want to continue with a similar mission—hiring people who have been justice-impacted. Giving people an opportunity. Some of my employees work part-time. They’d love to have another job on the side.”
Attorney Lauren Rudick said that letting people with convictions get their retail licenses first is a way to help right some of the wrongs of the Controlled Substances Act, which disproportionately targeted people of color. “I don’t see how you could ever give anyone years of their life back after being incarcerated for trafficking and controlled substances—the very same activities that companies are now making millions of dollars on,” she said. “It is the first step in what will hopefully be a broader campaign to remediate these issues.”
The application period for a retail license has not opened yet, that will happen after a public comment period takes place.