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The opportunity to be one of New York’s premier adult-use cannabis retailers has drawn 903 applicants looking to enter the upcoming market, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) announced Sept. 28. .

Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licenses “will create countless opportunities for our communities and the future,” OCM said on social media Wednesday.

The 903 applications were submitted during a single month-long window that ended September 26, with CMO officials expecting to approve up to 150 CAURD licenses which they plan to distribute in 14 regions of the state. The number of licenses in each region is based on population.

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CAURD licenses are reserved for businesses owned by people involved in justice “at the foundation of New York’s adult-use cannabis market,” according to the CMO. Specifically, requests were limited to those criminalized under the ban or those with a direct family member convicted of a cannabis-related offense before March 31, 2021 (the date the former governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act).

CMO officials also limit CAURD licenses to those with experience owning and operating a successful business in the state.

Whereas Overview CAURD app last month, Damian Fagon, CMO’s chief equity officer, said, “New York is the first state in the nation to create a truly fair and inclusive cannabis industry as a North Star. Every day, we fight for the goals and priorities of our cannabis law to provide opportunities for those most affected by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition.

The CAURD licensing program is part of New York’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative, which is funded by a $200 million cannabis social investment fund.

CAURD licensees are well positioned to make the first legal cannabis sales in New York before the end of 2022, “accelerating the delivery of investments to New York communities that have been impacted by the disproportionate application of prohibition cannabis,” according to the CMO.

The OCM will provide CAURD applicants 30 days from the September 26 closing date to edit their submissions before state officials begin scoring applications.

While the goalposts are positioned for a commercial launch of adult-use sales by the end of this year, OCM has not set a firm date for when that launch will take place.

Denise W. Whigham