People with weed-related convictions could be first to get retail licenses to sell marijuana
A new proposal would give people convicted of marijuana-related crimes priority when the state starts issuing licenses to sell recreational marijuana later this year.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to announce Thursday that the first licenses to distribute recreational pot will go to those with previous marijuana convictions.
Jessica Naissant, who owns a CBD store in Valley Stream, says she was arrested for smoking weed in 2018 and is hoping to get one of those permits.
"I was arrested, I was arraigned, I was put in jail," Naissant says.
She says that she feels likes she is "owed" because the state has done harm to her.
According to the state's Office of Cannabis Management, the first 100 to 200 retail marijuana licenses will go to those who have previously been convicted of pot-related offenses or have had close family members who were convicted.
Dave Falkowski, a member of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, says the new regulations will establish social equity after communities of color were disproportionately affected when marijuana was illegal.
"Marijuana is being sold, consumed, cultivated, it's just we're not bringing it out into the light," Falkowski says. "And it's very important to not take the industry away from the people who have brought it this far."
The plan is also facing opposition from some who say people should not be rewarded for breaking the law.
Jeff Reynolds, of the Family and Children's Association, says he think it's fine to allow those with previous convictions to be part of the industry, but not for initial licenses.
"But to say to folks, 'Look you violated the law, come to the front of the line ahead to those who don't violate the law,' Honestly it doesn't make any sense to us," Reynolds says
The Cannabis Control Board is expected to vote on the new regulations during its meeting Thursday afternoon.