The first conditional adult use cannabis retail licensee announcement is expected in about two weeks, a senior regulator said on Thursday.
Axel Bernabe, the chief of staff and senior policy director for the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), spoke at the Business of Cannabis conference hosted at the Academy of Medicine on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Thursday.
Bernabe gave an update to the timeline of regulators’ rollout of adult use cannabis. The next meeting of the Cannabis Control Board, which sits within OCM, will take place on November 21, he said. That meeting has not been publicly announced.
Bernabe said that regulators will be in a “position” to recommend for approval the first Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensees. These licensees, who will be prioritized before other types of applicants, must be “justice involved,” which means they either have a cannabis conviction or a family member who had one, and must have some business experience.
“The moment that that happens, then we will be assisting them as much as possible,” Bernabe said.
On a separate panel, Tremaine Wright, chair of the CCB, reiterated that “yes, we are on target,” for open cannabis shops before the close of 2022. “And, we are not opening a store, but there will be stores open before the end of the year.”
Wright also briefly touched upon the state’s $200 million public-private social equity fund, but did not provide a specific update on where its work stands. (As Cannabis Wire reported this week, the fund has outstanding RFPs related to these CAURD licensees.)
“The fund is a completely separate project that is being handled by the Dormitory Authority,” Wright said. “I believe they’re doing everything they’re supposed to be doing.”
Wright said that this moment is an opportunity, essentially, for people who say that they support equity efforts in New York’s cannabis industry to do so.
“I fully expect them to be making investments,” Wright said. “This is the first opportunity for people to demonstrate their commitment to equity. Please do.”
Wright spoke on the panel with Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who was one of two key lawmakers to draft and push for the passage of the Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA).
Peoples-Stokes said that New York’s adult use market “has to start with small businesses.” Peoples-Stokes added that she envisions “1,000 or 1,500 dispensaries across the state of New York” when the industry is up and running.
“That’s not too much to ask people to be patient for,” Peoples-Stokes said, though she alluded to extreme interest from people who do not fall under the umbrella of the equity applicants who will be prioritized in the first round of licensing.
“Does it give some people stress and anxiety? Yes, it does, because they’re trying to get access,” Peoples-Stokes said.