New York’s new cannabis chief vows that half of legal licenses will go to social justice efforts

New York State’s top cannabis regulator this week welcomed homespun entrepreneurs setting up shop in what could be one of the largest markets in the U.S., at an industry gathering aimed at ramping up the legal adult use marijuana business in the Empire State.

The idea of including people from African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods where most drug arrests took place remains prominent in the state, which could spawn a legal cannabis trade estimated at $3 billion or more.

The Empire State continues to work to allocate half of its closely watched cannabis business licenses to people most prosecuted by the War on Drugs, said Tremaine Wright, chair of the New York State Cannabis Control Board, the agency that’s overseeing the legal cannabis trade after the state legislature voted to legalize adult use marijuana earlier this year.

“We’ll level the playing field,” Wright told about 400 people on Thursday at the main lecture stage of the CWCBExpo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. “If we were to allow huge corporations to dominate, it would be just another way to undermine and repress communities that have been unduly burdened. We’re ready to make cannabis inclusive.”

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