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Photograph: Wesley Gibbs

It’s official: recreational pot shops can now open in NY

A total of 36 licenses were given out today.

Anna Rahmanan
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Anna Rahmanan
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During a public hearing earlier today, the New York State Cannabis Control Board announced the approval of 36 Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CUARD) licenses. What that means in layman's terms: recreational marijuana shops are one step closer to opening in New York state.

In total, the state announced that 150 licenses will be distributed this year (considering that the Office of Cannabis Management received over 900 applications this time around, that number doesn't seem like a lot) but earlier this month "a federal judge issued an injunction temporarily blocking license approval in some parts of the state," explains ABC. As a result, folks who applied from some parts of the state are still in legal limbo.

Interestingly enough, given the size of the New York market, officials have decided to distribute permits to some entrepreneurs and nonprofit groups as well. Out of the 36 licenses announced today, eight were given to nonprofits. Perhaps even more newsworthy, though, is the fact that most of the 36 permits were given to people with past arrests for marijuana as, according to the Daily News, "an attempt to rectify what many see as the past wrongs of an overly harsh system."

Today's news is a big deal and certainly much anticipated. Marijuana officially became legal in New York state in March of 2021. Since then, folks have been wondering what to expect in New York City—from smoking lounges to tons of new dispensaries.

The distribution of today's set of licenses marks the first official go-ahead to actually sell pot on a recreational level. As for when these shops will actually open, most are expected to start welcoming customers before the end of the year. 

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