New York

Equity Project State Briefing

Social Equity

Social Equity Definition / Criteria

  • i. Previous Cannabis Conviction:
  • ii. Income:
  • iii. State Residency:
  • iv. Qualifying Neighborhood / Municipal Residency:

New York’s Social and Economic Equity program applicants include  

  1. Individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition.
  2. Minority-Owned Businesses
  3. Women-Owned Businesses
  4. Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
  5. Distressed Farmers (requires NY residency) 
  6. Service-Disabled Veterans

 Extra priority shall be given to applications that demonstrate that an applicant: 

  • Is a member of a community disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition; 
  • Has an income lower than eighty percent of the median income of the county in which the applicant resides; and 
  • Was convicted of a cannabis-related offense prior to the effective date of this chapter, or had a parent, guardian, child, spouse, or dependent, or was a dependent of an individual who, prior to the effective date of this chapter, was convicted of a cannabis-related offense.


New York State Office of Cannabis Management "What is in the Law, Social and Economic Equity". Retrieved January 7, 202
NY CLS Cannabis § 87. Subsections 2 & 3

Social Equity Provisions

In New York 50% of adult use licenses will be awarded to social and economic equity applicants. “Extra” priority will be  given to social equity applicants who have a qualifying income, qualifying cannabis conviction and who is a member of a community disportionately impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition. 

New York’s social and economic equity program will offer a low and no interest loan program. New York will also provide an Incubator Program, which will encourage Equity Applicants to apply for a license and, if licensed, will provide direct support in the form of counseling services, education, small business coaching, and compliance assistance.


NY CLS Cannabis § 87. Subsection 4

License Priorities and Set Asides

  • License Priorities / Set Asides:

New York will grant at least 50% of available microbusiness, delivery and nursery licenses to minorities and disenfranchised groups such as women-owned businesses, directly impacted community members, disadvantaged farmers and service-disabled veterans. Social and economic equity applicants are given priority for delivery licenses.


NY CLS Cannabis § 73. Subsection (3)
NY CLS Cannabis § 74. Delivery License

Fee Waivers and Reductions

  • Fee Waivers / Reductions:

New York will waive or reduce fees for social and economic equity participants. However, the regulations have not yet been established.


NY CLS Cannabis § 63. Subsection (3)

Other Financial Support for Social Equity Applicants and Licensees

New York intends to create a $200 million public-private fund to support social equity applicants build out their business. Licensing fees and tax revenue will seed the fund and leverage significant private investment. It is unknown whether the fund will be available for social equity applicants as soon as the market opens.


New York State of the State. p 207, Promote Equity and Economic Justice in New York’s Cannabis Industry. Retrieved January 7, 2022

Other Licensing Provisions

License Caps

  • License Caps:
Yes (Local Opt-Outs)

In New York’s adult use framework, the Board may limit the number of each license type that it grants, although the law does not require it to do so. Regulations have not yet been released so it is unknown whether the Board will impose caps. New York allowed municipalities to opt out of retail dispensaries and on-site consumption by December 31, 2021. Out of 1518 municipalities, 642 municipalities opted out of dispensaries and 733 opted out of consumption sites.


CLS Cannabis § 10. Subsection (2)
Rockefeller Institute for Government "Marijuana opt out tracker". Retrieved January 7, 2022

Application Selection Process

  • Selection System:

New York has not yet released regulations for its adult use market, therefore it is unknown whether licenses will be distributed through a lottery or based on merit. New York’s medical market however distributes licenses based on merit.


New York State Department of Health "Medical Marijuna Program, Evaluation Process". Retrieved January 7, 2022

Felony Disqualification on Ownership

  • Ownership Exclusion for Felony Convictions:
  • Exemption for Cannabis Offenses:

New York’s adult use framework disqualifies applicants for cannabis licensure on the basis of their conviction history. In New York an individual will not be awarded a license if they have been convicted within the past three years of any felony related to the function or duties of operating business, which is not limited to 

(a) a felony conviction involving fraud, money laundering, forgery and other unlawful conduct related to owning business, 

(b) a felony conviction for hiring, employing or using a minor in transporting illicit substance.


CLS Cannabis § 137. Subsection (a)

Employee Criminal Records

  • Conviction Restrictions for Employees:
  • Exemption for Cannabis Offenses:

New York has not yet released regulations for its adult use market, therefore it is unknown whether cannabis employees will be required to undergo a state level criminal history background check.


CLS Cannabis § 10. Subsection (12)

Availability of Expungements

  • Expungements:
Yes, Automatic

New York offers automatic record cleaning for certain cannabis convictions.. All cannabis convictions under Penal Law §§ 221.05 and 221.10 prior to August 26, 2019 should be automatically expunged. Other convictions can be expunged through petitioning the court.


N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 440.46-A. Motion for resentence; persons convicted of certain marihuana offenses
N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 160.50. Subsection 5