In a classic case of inmates running the asylum, Gov. Kathy Hochul in her first large action after getting elected, issued the first recreational marijuana sales licenses Monday — and dozens of those who were handed the keys to the state’s new legal pot kingdom are people with cannabis convictions on their records or their families.
The state agency’s board met in Harlem to officially dole out 36 permits, including 28 to entrepreneurs and eight to non-profits. To be eligible, the licensees had to either have a pot conviction or be a family member of someone who had one, and have owned a profitable business, state officials said.
Thirteen of the licenses were awarded to entrepreneurs with arrest records in the city. State officials did not give details on the lucky recipient’s past criminal records, they all had had their records expunged.
The meeting in Harlem was steps away from the decimated neighborhood where ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio put a heroin safe injection site. The area has become a shooting gallery with addicts injecting themselves on the street while local residents try to conduct their daily lives.
“The data is irrefutable. Nowhere in this country was the enforcement of cannabis prohibition weaponized more methodically against under resourced communities than right here in New York,” said Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Christopher Alexander.
“Between 1980 and 2020, there were over 1.2 million marijuana arrests across the state of New York, with approximately one million of those arrests occurring within the five boroughs.
“Of the over 400,000 statewide marijuana convictions across that same period, 54% of those convicted were black, 23% Hispanic and 21% were white.”
Welcome to smoke city where only criminals can become entrepreneurs.