NY legal weed should hit shelves by the fall, says top cannabis official3 min read
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A public forum hosted by the Central Harlem Community Board on Saturday saw Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright fleshing out details of both the retail and cultivator conditional licensing programs that the state launched last month.
Among the particulars: conditional dispensary license holders will be eligible to receive loans with interest, as opposed to grants or interest-free loans. The money will come from a $200 million cannabis social equity fund.
“Loan funds will be provided to our conditional dispensary licensees,” Wright said. “I want you to think about this as a franchise model: these folks don’t get to pick where their location is, they will have a lot of assistance on buildout, and they will repay their loans.”
In February, DASNY – the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York – released a Request for Information to determine interest among possible investment partners in a program that would finance all direct and indirect expenses associated with the sourcing, leasing, planning, design, construction and equipping of dispensaries for conditional retail license holders.
Last month, the Cannabis Control Board approved draft regulations for conditional retail licenses, and reserved the first batch for “justice involved” applicants, meaning those who have been convicted of, or whose parents, spouses or children were convicted of, a marijuana offense prior to state legalization.
Wright said Saturday that regulators hope to eventually add a grant and/or zero-interest loan program, and that she expects a maximum of 200 businesses will receive conditional dispensary licenses.
Wright also predicted that cannabis products from conditional growers will be available for sale in the fall. The news came a little more than two weeks after the control board approved the first 52 conditional cultivator licenses.
In an interview with NY Cannabis Insider, Office of Cannabis Management Director Chris Alexander – who also attended the Central Harlem forum – agreed with Wright.
“By fall, we should have some products that are ready to be harvested,” Alexander said. “We’ll have the conditional growers, we’ll have the dispensaries online – some of them, at least – and so we’ll have a full supply chain and an active market.”
Alexander added that this only applies to conditional license holders, and said general licensed businesses probably won’t go online until the end of this year, or early 2023.
Saturday’s event also featured roundtables, including one on what is and is not legal in New York cannabis right now, which featured assistant district attorneys from the Bronx and Manhattan DA offices.
During a social equity panel, Regina Smith – executive director of the Harlem Business Alliance – warned that predatory actors would likely try to take advantage of social equity applicants. She said the state should provide funds to social equity applicants before the market opens, rather than wait for cannabis tax revenue to pay for programs supporting these businesses.
“We want to see you create successful businesses,” Smith said. “Let’s generate this wealth.”