New York’s cannabis regulators received more than 900 applications in a one-month window for marijuana dispensary licenses from prospective social equity applicants harmed by cannabis criminalization.

The first round of conditional adult-use retail dispensary licenses (CAURD) was only open to those personally impacted by marijuana’s prior illegal status, or who have a family member with a prior cannabis conviction. In particular, those who were arrested for cannabis possession but then convicted of a lesser offense were still eligible to apply. However, experience in running a qualifying business is also a prerequisite for consideration.

Of the 903 submitted applications, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) will license 150 successful applicants. The second round of dispensary licenses will be open to a broader pool of applicants.

Those who have handed in an application now have thirty days to review and amend their proposal. At this point, the OCM will begin reviewing and scoring them with a view to launching the first recreational cannabis retailers by the end of this year.

The OCM stresses the review procedure is based entirely on merit and eligibility, rather than on a first-come, first-serve basis. The location of each applicant is also a factor, as the OCM has limits on the number of CAURD licenses it will issue in each of New York’s regions.

Successful CAURD applicants will then be eligible for funding under New York’s $200 million Social Equity Cannabis Fund to help get their business up and running.

The OCM also notes that, under certain conditions, as many as 25 of the CAURD licenses may go to social equity organizations “with a history of serving justice-involved individuals and creating vocational opportunities for them.”

The end of the first round of applications for cannabis retailer licenses in New York is yet another indication of the state’s progress towards a legal marijuana industry that it hopes is up and running within the next few months.

The OCM has already approved the first round of cannabis cultivator and processor licenses. Still, in the meantime, the cannabis regulator has urged businesses not to ‘gift’ marijuana to customers to exploit a legal loophole before licensed sales start.

state marijuana laws