The first retail marijuana licensing applications in New York open on August 25th! This comes almost a year after recreational marijuana for adults over 21 was legalized in the state.
In an effort to right many wrongs from the drug war, which disproportionately affected black and brown communities, the first licenses will be issued to adult-use retail dispensary businesses that meet the qualifications for the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses.
This article will cover who qualifies for a CAURD license. Later articles will go over the application process, scoring criteria, and other particulars of CAURD.
Eligibility for a CAURD License
There are two ways to be eligible for CAURD:
- by meeting the criteria for a qualifying business, or
- by meeting the criteria for a qualifying nonprofit.
Qualifying Business Criteria
Thirty percent (30%) of the business that’s applying for a CAURD license (the “applicant”) must be owned by at least one “Justice Involved” individual, as deemed by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB). These are the people who were directly affected by New York’s marijuana-related criminal laws. They were either convicted of a marijuana-related offense before March 31, 2021, or they are the parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, or a dependent of someone who was.
Next, this “Justice Involved” person must have qualifying business experience. The business can be any structure and provide any service, but it must have had a net profit for two (2) years. Additionally, the “Justice Involved” individual must have had control over that business (i.e., making business decisions or having actual control ownership). Third, the applicant must be solely controlled by the “Justice Involved” individual. Finally, the business must have “significant presence” in New York.
Qualifying Nonprofit Criteria
At least 30% of the applicant must be owned by a qualifying nonprofit. The nonprofit must have a history of serving “Justice Involved” individuals, such as creating vocational opportunities. Moreover, at least one “Justice Involved” person must serve on the board or as a committee member. The applicant must have at least 5 full-time employees and have operated a social enterprise that had net assets for 2 years. The final two qualifications are the same as for a Qualifying Business. For more information about the criteria for each, visit the CAURD website.
The focus of this wave of applications is on individuals who have been disproportionately affected by marijuana criminal laws. In states where adult-use retail marijuana is legal and the industry is already established, 5% or less of marijuana businesses are operated by black entrepreneurs. The amount is even lower for indigenous owners. Black and brown people were and still are disparately incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. As this discrepancy becomes more apparent, states newer to legalization are trying to set up equitable programs that will give black and brown people a way to capitalize on this growing industry.
So far, the CCB will only accept between 50-100 CAURD applicants, perhaps as a trial, before opening licensing to the greater public. Time will tell if the criteria above is too limiting to affect great social change and break cycles.