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First licenses to sell marijuana will be given to New Yorkers impacted by the war on drugs

Sharon McCutcheon

New York’s first cannabis sale permits will be given to those impacted by the war on drugs, according to officials.

Over 100 licenses will be given to people with marijuana-related offenses that occurred before March 31, 2021, when New York legalized recreational use of the drug.

This is in an effort to make up for the disproportionate number of Black and Brown people arrested and jailed on nonviolent drug charges, the state’s cannabis control board said Thursday.

“We’re jumpstarting the cannabis industry today, and its investment into the communities that have been most impacted by the criminalization of cannabis prohibition,” said Chris Alexander, executive director of the state Office of Cannabis Management.

Brittany Carbone, a board member of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association, said the “reparations” for years of abuse were a good start.

“Allowing people who have previous convictions access to retail dispensaries is such a huge step in the right direction,” Carbone said. “Not only does it go toward repairing the damage caused by the war on drugs, but it also gives them a head start in the market. This is really important because these populations are not the populations that are going to be entering into a venture like this super well-capitalized.”

Getting a head start in the market will prevent big businesses from coming in and monopolizing the market, Carbone said.

“Access to capital is so restricted because of the federal status of cannabis,” Carbone said. “You see these large companies come in right away and shut a lot of people out.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.