State regulators on Monday issued licenses to seven applicants to open Long Island’s first recreational marijuana shops. The businesses will be allowed to start delivering their products to customers within weeks, while they work to set up their storefronts.
The Cannabis Control Board, meeting in Harlem, approved three dozen licenses statewide under New York’s conditional license program, which is designed to prioritize New Yorkers directly impacted by the inequitable enforcement of old marijuana laws. Black New Yorkers were 15 times more likely and Latino residents were eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people over the past 30 years, regulators said. Research shows these groups use marijuana at similar rates.
Each of the successful Long Island applications includes a “justice involved” individual, meaning someone who was convicted of a marijuana-related offense or is related to someone who was, according to a news release. Applicants must have owned a business that turned a profit for at least two years.
At least three of the licensees have operated businesses on the Island: Albert D. Capraro, who owned a glass business in Commack; Growth Industries NY, LLC, launched by former Centereach smoke shop owner Daniel Connolly and GI New York, LLC; and Hydo Phonics, started by Bryan Whalen and John Alvarez, who ran a home construction and remodeling business in Suffolk County, according to state regulators. Others opening on the Island — Brian Stark Enterprises LLC, Strain Stars LLC, Root 13 LLC and Keep it 100 LLC — are led by people who have run businesses in Brooklyn or Queens.
Specific locations of the shops have not been determined, regulators said.
Businesses awarded licenses will get help setting up their stores. The state’s construction financing team, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, contracted former NBA Star Chris Webber and an investment team to pull together $200 million by Sept. 1 for finding, outfitting and leasing dispensaries to conditional licensees. DASNY spokesman Jeffrey Gordon declined to say how much Webber’s team had raised or how many storefronts had been lined up.
Hopefuls listed the five regions they’d prefer to operate in as part of their application. Those licensed Monday were assigned to a particular region. They will work with state officials to lock in specific retail locations, according to Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, which oversees the industry regulations for hemp as well as for medical and recreational marijuana.
At least one recreational marijuana shop will open somewhere in the state by the end of the year, Alexander said. He declined to say how many others may be operating by then.
Alexander said the three dozen licensees announced Monday could begin delivering marijuana to customers once they finish paperwork, which he estimated would take a couple of weeks. They can’t use third-party delivery platforms like Uber and DoorDash and will receive more details on how to make sure customers are at least 21, OCM said.
New York began establishing a recreational cannabis supply chain in April when conditional or temporary licenses were issued to farmers with experience growing hemp, which comes from the same plant species as marijuana. Regulators have handed out conditional licenses for processing products and started working on regulations that will eventually open licenses up to a range of companies.
A federal lawsuit may delay sales in five regions: Brooklyn, the Mid-Hudson, the Finger Lakes, Central New York and Western New York. Variscite NY One, Inc., which is mostly owned by a business owner convicted of a marijuana offense in Michigan, filed a complaint alleging that the state’s licensing protocols “discriminate against citizens of other states.” Earlier this month, a judge barred the state from issuing conditional licenses in the geographic areas targeted by Variscite NY One.
“We don’t comment on pending litigation,” agency spokesman Freeman Klopott said in a statement. “We are additionally committed to getting New York’s cannabis supply chain fully operational.”
Correction: The name of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
The Cannabis Control Board is also developing rules for other license types; those proposed regulations will be put before the public for comments and other feedback. Here’s a look at the license types envisioned:
Cultivation — Several license types could be available based on the light sources used to grow marijuana.
Nursery — Businesses would be permitted to sell immature plants and seeds to other firms, but not directly to consumers.
Processing — Three credentials would authorize everything form minimal processing — packaging and labeling the plant — up to the more involved manufacturing needed to infuse food and beverages with cannabis.
Distributor — Firms would be allowed to transport products from processors to dispensaries.
Dispensary — Unlike the conditional retail license, this credential would be available to most entrepreneurs. Retailers would need to meet security and staffing requirements. They may be authorized to deliver items and to allow on-site cannabis consumption.
Microbusiness — This credential would allow small businesses to grow up to 10,000 square feet of marijuana outside, process the plant and operate a retail outpost.