NEW YORK – The first licenses to sell marijuana for recreation in New York will be people affected by the war on drugs, government officials said on Wednesday.

People with marijuana-related convictions will receive licenses for the first 100 to 200 cannabis retail licenses issued by the state in an attempt to correct the inequality of the justice system, which has shut down a disproportionately large number of colored people for drug crimes.

Some licenses will be awarded to nonprofits or businesses whose leaders are linked to a marijuana conviction. Priority will also be given to people from parents, legal guardians, children or spouses convicted of a marijuana crime.

Democrat Gov. Katie Hochul is set to announce planned rules for applicants for “social justice” on Thursday.

The rules will get the green light from the state cannabis control council later in the day, said Freeman Klopot, a spokesman for the Cannabis Management Office.

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The sentences were due by March 31, 2021, when former Gov. Andrew Cuoma signed the state’s legalization law.

The plans were first reported by The New York Times. The regulations were published on the state’s website on Wednesday.

It is unclear how many retail licenses will be issued in New York, the second most populous state after California, to legalize the storage and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

Social justice has become a key theme in the legalization of marijuana in recent years.

States where marijuana is legal have in recent years increasingly tried to secure a place in the market for people who have been prosecuted for a now-permitted drug. But in many states these efforts are slow.

New York is “gaining momentum,” said Cassandra Frederick, executive director of the Alliance for Drug Legalization.

“We don’t know what will happen,” she said, “but New York shows here that they are ready to try, and they are ready to do things differently … That’s the real thing.” try to achieve justice. “

The licensing plan is in line with other New York initiatives, such as the proposed $ 200 million grant and loan fund for startups for marijuana entrepreneurs who are women or members of minorities struggling with farmers, disabled veterans and people from communities that survived heavy police.

New York is seeking to grant 50% of the licenses to such applicants.

“It’s really encouraging to see New York learn from other states,” said Melissa Moore, another Alliance drug leader.

The New York Rules will also set out the rules for other retailers. Individual applicants must prove their presence in New York and that they have at least a 10% stake in a business that has made a net profit in two years.

“We want to see an industry that is wide and wide enough for everyone to participate,” said Steve Hawkins, director general of the American Hemp Council, an industry group. “This is an effort that we certainly accept and consider very important in terms of giving those affected by the war on drugs the opportunity to get started in what will be a very significant market in New York State.”

The Hochul administration has promised to create the “most diverse and inclusive” marijuana industry in the country and provide opportunities for people who have borne the brunt of decades of U.S. war on drugs.

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz from New York.

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