(Ezekiel Loseke, Headline USA) The state of New York has given convicted drug dealers priority in obtaining a license to sell recreational marijuana, provided them with start-up cash and given them subsidized access to a New York storefront.
Politico‘s report on the announcement sounded more like an advertisement for a lawsuit than a news article. It reads, “If you or a loved one have a pot conviction, you could have a new employment opportunity. New York will give you first dibs to sell marijuana, legally.”
New York is the first state to “offer its initial dispensary licenses solely to entrepreneurs with marijuana convictions,” according to Politico.
Chris Alexander, the executive director of New York’s Office of Cannabis Management, said that he thought hiring former drug dealers “means that we’re going to find a bunch of applicants who have gone through some significant challenges to still open and operate successful businesses.”
The state is doing more than granting criminals licenses to deal drugs. It is also subsidizing them. Politico reported, “If selected, the state will set up the applicants with a retail location and financing to help develop their storefronts.”
The financing is provided “from a $200 million Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund,” as reported by Politico. The fund “was created to help finance the leasing and equipping of up to 150 dispensaries across the state.”
Alexander said that New York designed the application process to be simple; it doesn’t require attorneys, accountants, or expertise to complete. Indeed, he noted that “All of the things that we’ve identified over the years as barriers to entry, we’re trying to remove.”
Robert DiPisa, an attorney and head of a New Jersey Marijuana advocacy group, argued that “The whole point of this is to put them [the former drug dealers] on a pedestal.”