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New York is opening up its marijuana market to major retailers.


The American state had promised to grant the first licenses for retail sales to individuals with prior convictions related to marijuana. However, difficulties have arisen.

Only about two dozen of the marijuana dispensaries identified by New York authorities have opened since the start of legal recreational cannabis sales in December of last year.

Officials had promised to issue the first licenses for retail sales to individuals with prior drug-related convictions, hoping to give them a chance at success before competitors entered the market.

However, due to legal disputes surrounding the licensing process, over 400 temporary licensees have been left in limbo. Marijuana growers are also facing difficulties since there are too few retail outlets to sell their crops.

Amid these challenges, New York regulatory agencies are now expanding the market. They have recently opened a 60-day window for applications for cultivation, processing, distribution, or sale of marijuana, with hopes of issuing over 1,000 new licenses.

This move is expected to increase the number of legal sales points in a market currently dominated by illegal sellers who open retail stores without permission.

The new rules will also allow companies holding licenses for the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana in the state to enter the recreational cannabis market.

However, the prospect of competing with medical providers worries some farmers and retail sellers who fear that companies with larger capital will squeeze them out.

"I worry that they have the money to bleed us," says Koss Marte, who is opening a store in Manhattan next week. "They are vertically integrated. So they can grow their product for the cheapest price and essentially undercut all farmers, all of our products, and all of our pricing."

CONBUD, Marte's store, was among those temporarily prohibited from opening by a judge after a group filed a lawsuit on behalf of disabled veterans, claiming that they were unfairly denied a license. As a result, Marte, who has a past drug conviction, was forced to pay rent for a store he couldn't open.

Recently, a judge ruled that CONBUD and several other stores can open. However, not all of them have been as fortunate.