New York Felons Get First Dibs On Cannabis Licenses

New York Cannabis Licenses Given To Felons

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New York Cannabis Licenses Prioritize Felons


New York, with its promising cannabis market following legalization, reserved the first dispensary licenses for individuals with past cannabis convictions, offering them a chance at economic transformation. However, a lawsuit challenging the state’s implementation of this law has halted the program, leaving many licensees in limbo.

Jeremy Rivera, one such licensee, invested his life savings to open a dispensary in Queens, only to find his business on hold due to the legal dispute. The path forward for Rivera and over 450 other licensees remains uncertain, while unlicensed dispensaries continue to thrive. The state must now address the legal hurdles and challenges to ensure the success of its cannabis program.

New York Cannabis Licenses Issued What To Know Now


The legalization of cannabis in New York promised a flourishing market with opportunities for those impacted by past convictions. However, a lawsuit has thrown the state’s dispensary licensing program into disarray, causing anxiety for licensees like Jeremy Rivera, who invested his savings to open a dispensary in Queens. This article explores the setbacks faced by these entrepreneurs and the uncertain future of New York’s cannabis market.

Fledgling Cannabis Market in New York

New York’s legalization of cannabis opened doors to one of the world’s largest potential cannabis markets, with New York City alone projected to generate substantial revenue.

The state aimed to prioritize individuals with prior cannabis convictions in its licensing program, offering them the opportunity to enter the cannabis industry.

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New York Cannabis Licenses

Lawsuit Halts Dispensary Licensing

Despite the promise, a lawsuit brought by service-disabled veterans challenged the constitutionality of New York’s licensing program.

This lawsuit halted the dispensary licensing program, claiming that other social and economic equity groups should also have a chance at a first-mover advantage. The legal dispute, which continues, has left the program in limbo.

Jeremy Rivera’s Plight

Jeremy Rivera, a licensee with a past cannabis conviction, is a symbol of the individuals the program was designed to help.

After investing his savings and putting his plans to buy a family home on hold, he now faces uncertainty as his dispensary, Terp Bros, remains unopened. Rivera’s experience exemplifies the emotional rollercoaster many licensees have endured.

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Uncertain Future for Licensees

The judge overseeing the lawsuit indicated possible exemptions for a select few licensees, providing hope for Rivera and others. However, this relief was short-lived as the judge, after reviewing additional documents and inconsistent statements from the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, opted not to grant any exemptions.

This has left over 450 licensees in an unpredictable and challenging situation, with no clear timeline for resolution.


The legal hurdles and uncertainties surrounding New York’s cannabis program have cast a shadow over an otherwise promising market. As entrepreneurs like Jeremy Rivera await clarity and the chance to realize their investments, unlicensed dispensaries continue to thrive.

The future of New York’s cannabis market depends on the resolution of these issues and the state’s ability to ensure equitable access to the industry.


What is the key issue highlighted in the article?

The article primarily discusses the legal challenges and uncertainties faced by individuals who were granted cannabis dispensary licenses in New York, with a particular focus on those with past cannabis convictions.

Why did New York prioritize individuals with past cannabis convictions for dispensary licenses?

New York aimed to rectify past injustices by prioritizing individuals with past cannabis convictions, offering them the opportunity to enter the legal cannabis industry and benefit from its economic prospects.

What has caused the delay in opening these dispensaries?

A lawsuit filed by service-disabled veterans challenging the constitutionality of New York’s licensing program has led to the suspension of the dispensary licensing program, causing a delay in opening these businesses.

How many dispensaries have been opened in New York as of now?

Fewer than 20 dispensaries have opened across the state, highlighting the impact of the legal challenges and delays in the licensing program.

What challenges are licensees like Jeremy Rivera facing?

Licensees like Jeremy Rivera have invested significant resources, but their dispensaries remain unopened due to the legal dispute. They are experiencing financial setbacks and uncertainties about the future of their businesses.

What were the judge’s initial considerations regarding exemptions for licensees?

The judge initially indicated that exemptions might be granted for select licensees, including Terp Bros, Jeremy Rivera’s dispensary, providing hope for these businesses to open.

Why did the judge later decide not to grant any exemptions for licensees?

The judge decided not to grant exemptions following the review of additional documents and contradictory statements from the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, leading to an uncertain future for over 450 licensees.

How is the delay affecting the cannabis market in New York?

The delay in opening licensed dispensaries has allowed unlicensed dispensaries to thrive, which could impact the state’s ability to regulate the cannabis market effectively.

What is the future of New York’s cannabis market dependent on?

The future of New York’s cannabis market depends on resolving the legal challenges and uncertainties surrounding the licensing program and ensuring equitable access to the industry for all eligible licensees.

Is there any information on when the legal issues might be resolved?

As of now, there is no clear timeline for the resolution of the legal challenges, leaving licensees in an uncertain situation.

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Meet The Author

Mike Korlin

Mike Korlin

I have been studying and applying functional medicine in my personal life for nearly a decade. As a student, a retailer and a human being my knowledge is drawn from my own and thousands of other peoples experiences that I have spoken to or aided in discovering the wonderful world of plant medicines.

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