New York regulators on Thursday doubled the number of available retail licenses for adult-use marijuana social equity applicants to 300.
According to Syracuse-based news outlet CNYCentral, recreational cannabis licenses will increase proportionally in each of the state’s 14 dedicated regions and be awarded from an existing pool of Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) applicants, New York’s version of social equity.
“The announcement today is a major step in the right direction,” Vladimir Bautista, a CAURD applicant and co-founder of cannabis lifestyle brand Happy Munkey, said in a statement.
The New York Cannabis Control Board, the state’s chief regulator, has issued 66 provisional CAURD licenses, yet only four licensed dispensaries are operating.
That’s far short of market expectations touted by regulators and the state’s top politicos leading up to the Dec. 29 launch of adult-use sales.
The choppy rollout has been plagued by lawsuits, applicant and licensee funding challenges, shortfalls from a state-funded property and lease assistance program for retailers as well as a thriving illicit market.
Even when the state’s potential $1 billion market is fully operational with hundreds of licensed retailers, they will compete against hundreds more operating illegally in broad daylight across New York City alone, largely unchecked for years.
The majority of remaining CAURD licenses in eligible regions will be considered at an April board meeting, CNYCentral.com reported.