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New York hands out first recreational marijuana licenses to retailers

FILE – This Nov. 8, 2012 file photo shows marijuana plants flourishing under the lights at a grow house in Denver. President Barack Obama says he won’t go after Washington state and Colorado for legalizing marijuana. In a Barbara Walters interview airing Friday on ABC, Obama is asked whether he supports making pot legal. He says, “I wouldn’t go that far.” (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File) Ed Andrieski

New York hands out first recreational marijuana licenses to retailers

Abigail Adcox

November 21, 02:21 PM November 21, 02:21 PM

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New York regulators have doled out the first recreational marijuana licenses to retailers, paving the way for recreational sales for adults 21 and over to start in the state.

The New York State Cannabis Control Board approved 36 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CUARD) licenses in the first round, prioritizing applications from dispensaries operated by individuals with marijuana convictions or their relatives and nonprofit groups.

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“28 Justice-involved individuals & 8 Nonprofit organizations will make the first adult use-sales by New York farmers and bring countless opportunities to our communities,” the New York Office of Cannabis Management said in a tweet.

At least one license was approved in each region of the state allowed.

Over 150 licenses for recreational sales will be approved in total, though state regulators are currently barred from granting licenses in certain regions in the state, including Brooklyn, after a federal judge issued an injunction in response to a lawsuit earlier this month.

Variscite NY One filed the lawsuit earlier this year, claiming that the state was favoring in-state residents over others, arguing that it breaches a commerce clause that blocks states from discriminating against residents from out-of-state.

State regulators also announced on Monday that they will allow the newly licensed dispensaries to begin selling the drug through delivery while waiting for contractors chosen by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to build their storefronts. The move will likely mean that marijuana for recreational use will be hitting the streets earlier than anticipated.

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New York legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults in March 2021 but is still in the process of licensing people to grow and sell it.

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