State announces first round of marijuana selling licenses, none issued around Rochester yet

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ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Office of Cannabis Management announced on Monday the first round of people and non-profits to get a license to sell legal marijuana. The state granted licenses to 28 people with prior marijuana convictions and non-profits.

None of the licenses were issued in the Rochester region because of a federal lawsuit that calls into question whether the application process that New York set-up, discriminates against people who live outside New York.

Every applicant had to choose 5 regions in New York State where they would want to open a legal dispensary.  The person who filed the federal lawsuit chose the Finger Lakes, Central New York, Western New York, Mid-Hudson and Brooklyn so, due to the injunction, NYS did not award any licenses in those areas.  That leaves our region and the justice-involved CUARD applicants behind other parts of the state.

Applicants in the Finger Lakes Region got an email on Friday that read in part, “You have identified one of these 5 regions as your first regional choice.  As the office has received more applications than there are licenses available for each of the 14 regions, only an applicant’s first regional choice will be considered.  As such, the board will be unable to issue licenses in these region until the judicial proceeding is complete or the plaintiff withdrawals their complaint. “ 

Britni and Jayson Tantalo are CUARD applicants from Rochester and were devastated to learn our region has been put on hold, “we have a lot of people from the tech side, to the build-out side, to security, to people in our community…we have the resumes in hand, we are ready to go,” Britni says.

The whole point of the CUARD application process was to prioritize those with previous marijuana convictions in marginalized communities; communities like Rochester, that desperately need the tax revenue this new legal market will create. 

The other concern is that a lack of a legal market locally will create an even bigger demand on the illicit one, “people lose interest so, you can talk about it all day long but if there’s no solution…customers are going to go elsewhere,” Jayson adds.

More of our coverage:

See our series “Cannabis Countdown” about what NYS can expect when dispensaries open: